Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general Wilson Sossion and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) National Chairman Omboko Milemba at Milimani commercial court on January 14 Wednesday 1015
BY SAM ALFAN.
Industrial Court in Nairobi has directed teachers to resume classes and asked trade unions, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) and Kenya National Union of Teachers ( KNUT) to file the dispute matters before it.
This is after a long day closed-door meeting that was conducted before Industrial Court Judge chamber justice Nduma Nderi.
Justice Nduma Nderi asked the unions to call off the strike which has paralyzed learning countrywide in public schools and stopped any victimization of the teachers who have down tools since last week.
Court asked KUPPET and KNUT to file their cases by Monday January 19 and asked the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to respond to the dispute by January 26.
It will be another fresh attempt to try and resolve the dispute which has affected nearly all public institutions at primary and high school levels across Kenya. Parents have in some cases desperately kept their pupils and students home in hope of success in negotiations in vain.
Industrial Court had earlier declined to stop the ongoing countrywide strike by teachers last week saying orders may worsen the situation.
Justice Nduma Nderi also noted that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) had already reached compromises on 37 issues, some of which touch on teachers’ allowances.
However the only stalemate, he said, which is the cornerstone of the strike concerns increasing teachers’ basic pay.
“I need all the officials from TSC, Knut and Kuppet to help come up with an amicable solution that will see children resume school soonest possible,” he said.
Knut, through their lawyer John Mbaluto said that parties could only negotiate without coercion and in an environment of give and take.
“I appreciate that your affidavit (TSC’s) is misleading because you persisted in that lie which is in the press because probably they also did not take time to examine the parties in the suit. The intention today first of all was a mention for directions and further orders. My intention was to intervene in this matter in terms of Section 15 of the Industrial Court Act,” he explained.
He further emphasized the importance of all parties in a dispute to exhaust all avenues of dispute resolution before resorting to court action.
“Both the unions nor the employer referred this matter to conciliation and you cannot approach this court before you follow the laid down procedure and that is why other employees are not on strike every day because they follow the procedure which is a very good guideline to resolving disputes.”
He says once negations come to a halt, parties need to follow all the laid down procedures so as to unlock the deadlock.
“I know once the strike commences, you get a right but that does not absolve you from the omission. As an employer, as soon as there is an indication that things are getting out of hand, you resort to the mechanism under section 62 which allow the matter to be resolved and you have not done that for the past many years when a strike has always been called for,” he said.
TSC chairperson Lydia Nzomo instructed County Education Directors to undertake a daily headcount of teachers to ascertain those who boycott work.
She stated that teachers unions should wait until August when the Salaries and Remuneration Commission completes its job evaluation after a collapse in ingoing negotiations.
But in a swift rejoinder, the Kenya National Union of Teachers insisted that the teachers strike is still on and that tutors will not be intimidated.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion described the TSC statement as misguided and vowed that they would not be cowed.
Kenyans will wait and see whether the unions will obey the court directives and resume teaching..