NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 3 – The teachers strike crisis is back in court after the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) filed counter accusations on the legality of the industrial action after failure to effect a pay rise.
KNUT has sued TSC over its failure to pay teachers a 50 to 60 percent pay hike awarded by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Through Oraro and Company Advocates, the union which filed contempt of court proceedings against the commission on Thursday morning sought orders compelling the government to pay teachers, failure to which the TSC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer should be committed to jail.
“The respondents are in blatant and wilful contempt of this honourable court’s judgment and consequential orders given on 30th June 2015 which inter alia required the Teachers Service Commission to pay teachers between 50 and 60 percent increment in basic salary,” it stated.
“The said judgment and consequential orders have not been stayed by either the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court despite attempts by the respondents to seek such stay.”
In the suit set to be heard on September 21, KNUT also wants both the Education and Treasury Cabinet Secretaries arrested should the payments not be made.
While the union is accusing TSC of failing to honour court orders to increase the teachers pay, TSC argues that the strike is illegal because no notice has been served to them to date.
According to the union, the strike could have been avoided had TSC complied with the court order and paid teachers.
“As a result of the respondents’ refusal to pay teachers their fair and just remuneration as awarded by this honourable court, industrial unrest is likely to grip the entire nation and there is likely to be a complete paralysis of learning in public schools countrywide,” it indicated.
The union argues that parties who disobey court orders must be punished as no other remedy exists to compel them.
“No other remedy is available to obtain payment of the aforesaid increment in basic pay to teachers. Unless the court takes action, the resultant judgment and decree will have been in vain,” it stated.
“Most importantly, disobedience of court orders threatens the very foundations upon which the administration of justice is pegged and is an affront to the constitutional power and mandate vested in the Judiciary pursuant to Article 1 and Article 159 of the Constitution.”
The move comes even as the Treasury insisted that there was not money to pay teachers except by raising taxes.
TSC has threatened to interdict teachers who are participating in the national strike which it has termed illegal.
KNUT has already dismissed threats to sack striking teachers, saying they cannot be intimidated.
KNUT National Chairman Mudzo Nzili says the “empty threats” issued by the Teachers Service Commission will not stop the nationwide strike unless money owed to teachers is paid.