Court rejects Knut’s plea, orders teachers to work tomorrow

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion address press on 31st December 2018 at Ministry of Labour office in Upper Hill,Nairobi. Teachers have been ordered to report to work on Thursday. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered teachers to call off their intended strike and report to work on Thursday as earlier directed by the Teachers Service Commission.

While delivering the ruling, Judge Byram Ongaya directed the teachers to report to work pending the hearing of their case.

The court has also directed the Teachers Service Commission and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) to attend the conciliation meeting at the Labour Ministry offices.

Judge Ongaya has urged the TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia to engage the Knut officials to solve the differences between the union and the Government.

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Parties engaged in the talks, which were proposed by Ministry of Labour, have been ordered by the court to appear at the venue as from 9am from tomorrow.

Knut had raised various issues of their concern as reasons behind their strike. Transfer of teachers, increase of salaries, need for better working conditions and promotions were some of the grievances of the union.

In the ruling, the court ordered that issues relating to the transfer of teachers causing a deadlock be handled by February 15, 2019. The court added that promotion guidelines must be regular. The teachers and union officials have also been barred from taking part in strike.

Knut, through its defence counsel Paul Muite, had requested the court for more time for communication down the grass root to avoid violation of court order.

Muite argued that the union has structured communication channels, and not the media. And that for them to implement the court order, more time would be necessary to undo the strike and get teachers back in class.

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“We are not asking for any unreasonable timeline…Let them go back with effect from Monday,” said Muite.

He said that no one was willing to go on strike given that there was already an order restraining it.

But TSC on the other hand, through their counsel argued that what the request of the union was not making any sense. TSC says that Muite’s argument is like appealing a court order, which is unlawful.

As per the TSC, the court proceedings were live on national television stations and vernacular radio stations hence there is no additional communication needed to get teachers back in classroom.

Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion had accused the TSC for snubbing the conciliation meeting on Tuesday. Instead, TSC headed to court to seek orders to stop the teachers’ strike.

SEE ALSO :Tough Knut elections split union

On Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary for Education Amina Mohamed sided with the TSC by announcing that schools will be opened tomorrow, Thurday.

The Ministry of Education had moved the opening date from January 2 to January 3 to allow teachers and learners to travel after end year festivities.

Employment and Labour Relations CourtKNUTTSCNancy Macharia