NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 4 – The High Court has now declared that the ongoing teachers strike was not properly called and therefore not protected by law.
The observation was made by Lady Justice Monica Mbaru in a case filed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) which is accusing the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) of violating the law in the ongoing strike.
Before the petition could be heard, lawyer Paul Muite for KNUT questioned the commission’s motives arguing that it was abusing the court process since it failed to obey a previous court order.
“We seek the opportunity to outline reasons why in our submission, this application ought not to proceed and if we are accorded that opportunity we will show how the petition is a blatant violation of the court process. Logically of course, it would be wrong of us to sit here when we have objections to this matter proceeding this morning,” he stated.
“Our objections relate to issues of law. We are just seeking the opportunity to outline the issues we want to raise before the application is argued. I cannot possibly see what objection there can possibly be to our raising those issues now. Once the court has heard those issues, if the court is of the opinion that we need to file any form of application then we will do so,” he argued.
“If you find that they are not abusing court process, if you find that you have jurisdiction, if you find that they are not raising questions that have already been determined, then you may allow them to be heard in the application. So it is only logical and time saving that we are heard on our objections first before they spend judicial time extravagantly.”
TSC through its lawyer Geoffrey Obura insisted that KNUT did not serve it with a notice as required by law before urging teachers to strike, paralysing learning in all public schools.
“The issue before the court is a matter of national importance and a question of continued injury to the petitioner, the children and the public on whose behalf the petition has been brought and we would like the matter to be dispensed with as a matter of urgency as the situation calls,” Obura stated.
The judge has now directed KNUT and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers to file their submissions by Thursday next week when the hearing of the objections raised will take place.
TSC has threatened to interdict tutors who are participating in the nationwide strike which it has termed illegal.
A statement from the commission indicated that the strike was not properly called and directed teachers to report to schools immediately, failure to which action will be taken against individuals.
The commission further accused KNUT of encouraging teachers to boycott work in complete disregard of set procedures.
KNUT however dismissed the threats to sack striking tutors, saying they will not be intimidated.
The union’s National Chairman Mudzo Nzili on Thursday pointed out that empty threats issued will not stop the nationwide strike unless money owed to teachers is paid.
He stated that the reason the strike was in progress was different from previous times, since it only involved the payment of teachers.