Reality of teachers’ strike dawns

Kitui Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) branch officials at the union’s offices in Kitui town yesterday. They told teachers to paralyse opening of schools on Thursday. [Paul Mutua, Standard]

Uncertainty on the opening of public schools loomed large last evening as the parties involved in an industrial dispute were locked in a stalemate.

Despite spending the better part of yesterday in a series of meetings in a bid to avert the strike called by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), there was no sound resolution arrived at as both parties maintained hardline positions.

And as the reality sank that the strike was imminent, the teacher’s employer, Teachers Service Commission (TSC) rushed to the Employment and Labour Relations court where it obtained orders, temporally stopping the industrial action.

Buoyed by the court order and the certifying of their motion as urgent by the court’s deputy registrar, TSC cancelled the press briefing it had called, postponing the address to  Wednesday when the matter is scheduled to be placed before the duty judge.

In the orders, the deputy registrar directed TSC, who is the applicant to ensure that they served parties by close of yesterday for inter-parties hearing tomorrow at 11am.

The court in the meantime ordered Knut not to honour its strike notice and prevent members from taking the industrial action scheduled to take effect from tomorrow.

“Pending the inter-parties hearing or further orders by the court, there shall be [a] stay of the strike notice by the respondent, Kenya National Union of Teachers Ref No Knut/LAB/52/59/2018 dated December 19, 2018 and as reinforced in the strike circular Ref No Knut/CIRC/122/41/2018 dated December 30, 2018 with the effect that the respondent’s officials, members, employees, agents or any other persons acting on their behalf is hereby restrained from implementing the strike notice and the strike effective January 2, 2019, as therein conveyed and the teachers affected by the notice shall continue on duty accordingly,” ordered the court.

The court also ordered Knut to, in the meantime, present to TSC a list of teachers due for promotion under the prevailing terms and conditions of service including the prevailing career guidelines and the provisions of the collective agreement and the applicant’s code of regulations for the employer to make appropriate decisions in individual cases.

It directed TSC to make decisions on the applications for review or appeals against the transfer decisions made by individual teachers who felt adversely affected by the transfer decision, further directing that no teacher should be victimised or harassed for applying for review or appealing the employer’s decision.

The court also ordered that the parties continue with negotiations and consultations “in good faith” on the review of the instruments, processes and procedure on performance contracting or management and the new instruments, further ordering that the contentious processes and procedures are not implemented except in strict compliance with Clause 11 of the collective agreement.

“As the teacher, professional development programme has not yet been implemented, parties to continue in negotiations towards an efficient, effective and just implementation including agreeing on funding of the Teachers Professional Development (TPD) Modules and policy framework,” ordered the deputy registrar.

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