NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – Teachers have threatened to go on strike unless Chief Justice Willy Mutunga intervenes to resolve the stalemate with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over a Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In a letter to CJ Mutunga, Kenya National Union of Teachers legal counsel Paul Muite said they were unable to bring teachers’ unions and TSC back to the negotiating table after a failed attempt to impose a 50-60 percent pay rise was rejected by the Court of Appeal.
“I write to request for the earlier possible date for directions with a view to having hearing dates for this appeal given on priority basis. The appeal touches on a matter of extreme public interest; education in public school attended by children of majority of Kenyans who cannot afford high cost private schools,” Muite says in the letter.
The letter makes reference to the case (Supreme Court Petition No. 20 of 2015) in which KNUT had filed an application where it listed the TSC, Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), the Attorney General and KUPPET respectively as respondents.
Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Nelson Abuodha last year directed KNUT and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) to suspend their month-long strike to give dialogue a chance.
Justice Abuodha directed that the TSC and the unions with the assistance of the Labour Cabinet Secretary to appoint a neutral and mutually agreeable conciliator or conciliation committee to explore valuable modalities of implementing the 50-60 percent pay increment awarded by the Labour Court.
“Hon Mr Justice Abuodha made it clear that he was only suspending the strike (which strike he found lawful) for a period of 90 days. The 90 days expired on 25th December, 2015. In terms of that judgment therefore, teachers are perfectly within their rights under Article 41 of the Constitution to resume the nationwide strike in furtherance of their right to fair remuneration.”
“However, in the interests of the children and their parents, KNUT would want to see this matter resolved amicably or through this Hon. court and to thus avert a strike which undoubtedly will be disruptive to education in the country. It is for this reason that I write to you in your capacity as Head of Judiciary in terms of Article 161(2) (a) to make appropriate directions envisaged in Article 159 of the Constitution,” he said in the letter.
The Court of Appeal in November struck out the teachers 50-60 per cent pay rise saying that SRC input was not sought.
President Uhuru Kenyatta in November held a meeting with KNUT chairman Mudzo Nzili, where it was resolved to agree on a new four-year collective bargaining agreement within a month.
Negotiations for the new CBA are pegged on the dropping of all cases pertaining to teachers’ pay that are before court.