Knut refuses to give no-strike guarantee

KNUT officials drawn from Nyanza region sing solidarity song in Kisii town on 18/7/2019. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

The Kenya National Union of Teacher (Knut) yesterday declined to guarantee that it will not call a strike in the event the labour court stays its orders on teachers promotions, transfers and training.

The court had barred the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) from implementing wide ranging policies touching on transfers, promotions and union membership.

But TSC moved to court seeking a stay on the orders. The commission argued that implementing the orders would not only reverse gains made under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement  with teachers but also interfere with its role.

The teachers' union has opposed TSCs application, insisting that the teachers' employer must abide with court orders issued a fortnight ago.

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The union failed to commit that it would not call a strike in the event the orders were suspended.

Instead, KNUT's lawyer John Mbaluto, said if the Employment and Labour Relations Court suspended its orders, it would mean that a strike notice issued last year shall take effect.

He was responding to a concern raised by Justice Byrum Ongaya who wanted an assurance from all the parties involved that learning will not disrupted by the ongoing case.

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On the other hand, Teachers Service Commission ( TSC) lawyer Timon Oyucho said that the orders would have an effect of depriving children quality education.

"Teachers can do as they wish without being managed," he said.

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Lawyer Oyucho argued that career progression guidelines are the implementing tool for the current CBA  and that schemes of service which were reverted to by the court cannot be used.

"The schemes of service do not provide that when you get a degree you will be promoted immediately," argued Oyucho.

According to the TSC, the orders of the court also meant that teachers will not be supervised for a year. The court had ordered that TSC validates teachers appraisal by December 1, 2019 for roll out in January 2020.

Lawyer Mbaluto for KNUT argued that the court had no powers to stay its orders as it had already pronounced itself.

"You may have been right or wrong but it is for the Court of Appeal to determine. In effect, if you stay your orders, the status we will revert to is industrial unrest," he said.

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"Let the applicant move to the appeal court and not ask this court to reverse its own orders," he said.

Meanwhile Attorney General Kihara Kariuki has waded into the row, asking the labour court to suspend its orders against TSC.

Kihara told the court that its orders would cripple the commission's operations.

The court will deliver its judgment on July 26,2019.

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