NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – CORD leader Raila Odinga says the government is setting a bad precedent in the standoff with teachers by not obeying a court order and holding a rigid stance in the pay dispute.
Speaking during a breakfast meeting with editors on Wednesday, Odinga described the face-off as unfortunate and emphasised the need for the government to uphold the rule of law.
“The standoff with the teachers is most unfortunate because it also raises fundamental questions about the rule of law. Can a government go against a Supreme Court ruling and still enforce the same rule of law? This government is a product of a Supreme Court ruling,” he declared.
He pointed out that the Opposition accepted and respected the decision of the Supreme Court over the 2013 General Election even though the poll petition was thrown out on a technicality.
“We did challenge the results of the elections in the Supreme Court and it is true the court dismissed part of our evidence saying it was time barred and then went on to legitimise this government. We said we do not agree, but we respect the rule of the court. You can never say, can’t pay, won’t pay,” he said.
He indicated that the government should set the example in respecting court orders and embrace dialogue in a bid to resolve the situation.
“If that is going to be applied to every other citizen, there is going to be anarchy. You must come up and say, the court has ruled, we respect the ruling of the court, we are going to work on the modalities of how to deal with this or we are going to challenge it in this way or the other way,” he pointed out.
He stressed that through dialogue, a lot of issues can be solved and the government would be embracing a culture of inclusiveness.
“The strike also puts focus on the style of our politics and the need for us to embrace a culture of consultation. It reminds us of our earlier calls for dialogue. We are no longer interested in that. We however believe that had the state allowed a dialogue at that time, it could have set a positive trend through which we could resolve so many emerging issues including the ongoing strike,” he stated.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that Kenyans will have to pay more taxes if the 50 to 60 percent pay rise demanded by teachers is met.
The Head of State had said that the quest for pay increase is not only unsustainable but is bound to cause imbalance in the civil service wage structure and spark fresh demands by other workers.
The teachers on the other hand have maintained they will not go back to class until they get their pay rise as directed by the Industrial Court.
On Tuesday, the Employment and Labour Relations Court directed the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to stop issuing threats to the striking teachers pending the determination of the petition on the legality of their mass action on Friday next week.
While issuing the directions, Justice Nelson Abuodha also warned teachers against holding demonstrations before the ruling, as this may worsen the already volatile situation.
The directions came in the wake of submissions by both TSC and the teachers’ unions on the petition where arguments were made on the legality of the strike.