NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – Teachers’ unions have finally called off their two-week strike and directed their members to resume work on Monday at 8am.
The unions directive came after an order issued by Judge Nduma Nderi following daylong negotiations at the Industrial Court, which asked them to call off the strike as it took over the responsibility of setting ‘reasonable’ salaries for teachers.
“For the avoidance of doubt all teachers will resume teaching by Monday, 19th January 2015. TSC undertakes not to victimise any teacher, union official or the unions who may have participated in the strike including payment of salaries,” ruled Justice Nderi.
In his ruling, the judge further directed the parties involved in the labour dispute to submit proposals on the expected pay to help the court determine salaries for teachers.
“The unions KNUT and KUPPET to file their memorandum by 19th January, the Teachers Service Commission to file their memorandum by 25th January, the Central Planning and Monitoring Unit (CPMU) and the SRC to file their report within 10 days from 26th January 2015.”
Court adjudication is an option taken in a labour dispute if the employer fails to table an offer and the judge will now determine the level of salaries, allowances and benefits to be paid to the aggrieved parties.
“This is a very historic day in this country for the judiciary to address the labour dispute that has bedevilled this country for many years. We have developed what we think is in the best interest of this country of industrial relations in the teaching service and the public service, and we believe it is going to mark the end of confusion and will open a new dawn for proper construction of collective bargaining agreements at all times,” said Wilson Sossion, the KNUT Secretary General.
There was no charged atmosphere that usually characterise union press briefings despite the presence of close to 100 teachers in the court precincts waiting for the court to rule on their fate.
Sossion’s sentiments were reiterated by his counterpart from the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Akello Misori who praised the court’s willpower to resolve the teachers pay dispute saying it was time the constant strikes over pay were addressed.
“We laud the Industrial Court for taking a bold step to take away the responsibility of the employer and workers to make a determination. We want something that is going to last for an eternity… we cannot be perennial strikers,” he said.
On his part, KNUT Chairman Mudzo Nzili acknowledged the success of the talks saying they were trusting that the court would consider the plight of teachers who have sacrificed for years to ensure pupils got an education despite the poor remuneration they were subjected to.
“They were giving us a 30-50 percent offer but we wanted a 100-150 percent increment. We don’t want them to give us 50 percent or 150 percent, we want them to give us something reasonable,” said Nzili.