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Teachers unions divided after TSC appeals ruling on pay increase

The two teachers unions yesterday took opposite directions in their response to Teachers Service Commission's (TSC) decision to contest their huge pay award.

However, both were in consensus that TSC's decision to move to the Court of Appeal was "delay tactic" to deny teachers their rightful and overdue pay increment.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), after holding a National Executive Board (NEB) meeting, announced it will have no option but to call a strike if TSC fails to pay teachers their increment as ordered by the court.

Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori accused TSC of deliberately delaying the process of effecting the increment by appealing the decision of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

Teachers were expecting to receive their enhanced remuneration at the end of this month following the June 30 court decision which raised their basic salaries by between 50 and 60 per cent.

Justice Juma Nderi, who made the landmark judgement, had given TSC, Kuppet and Knut 30 days to conclude and register a Collective Bargaining Agreement and file it with the court.

As Kuppet threatened to take to the streets to push for implementation of the new pay, Knut said it would await the verdict of the appeal court.

Speaking from Accra, Ghana, where he was attending a meeting, Knut's national chairman Mudzo Nzili urged teachers to remain united.

"The Constitution provides for appeal. We do not have a problem with that. But we are aware that this is a delaying tactic to deny teachers their right. Tell them (TSC) that we are ready and shall fight because we have the best lawyers," he said.

"Although we are offended, we are not worried. We shall take each and every person head on," Nzili said.

He said teachers have faith in the Judiciary and were banking on it to protect their right. "Let me warn TSC and the Government that we will defeat them and the sooner they pay teachers their dues the better," he said.

Misori, however, said the appeal by TSC was in bad faith and was meant to court trouble. He said the union will not be part of an appeal process, "which only seeks to extend the timelines of the implementation of the 50-60 per cent pay increase for teachers".

"We are not prepared to go through another bruising battle with TSC in courts. They know that the judgement was given by a competent court of law. We have studied the grounds on which they have lodged the appeal but [we are] not ready to be part of this," he said.

Yesterday, TSC served Kuppet, Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), Attorney General and Knut with the Court of Appeal application seeking to overturn Nderi's ruling on the pay increase.

employment act

Misori accused TSC of deliberately attempting to delay a process that had been concluded and warned that should the Government fail to implement the court's judgment, a strike would be inevitable.

The Kuppet Secretary General said all technical issues touching on pay raise for teachers were conclusively dealt with at the Employment and Labour Relations Court and that only matters of law will be dealt with at the Appellate court.

He explained that SRC, TSC and the unions entered into an agreement to handle the pay raise dispute as per the dictates of the Labour and Employment Act.

Kuppet is relying on Justice Nderi's judgement that sought to clarify the role of SRC as an advisory organ of the Government on pay of State officers but not teachers.

"The court reiterated that TSC has the mandate to set and review the remuneration of teachers upon advise by SRC but is not bound by the advise of SRC in setting and reviewing remuneration of teachers," said Misori.

He argued that instead of lodging an appeal, TSC should have prepared a budget for allocation of funds and taken it to the National Treasury and the National Assembly for approval.

Teachers were awarded the huge increase after a protracted court battle running back to 1997. Following the increment, the lowest paid P1 teacher, currently earning about Sh15,000, was to take home at least Sh22,500 as basic salary at the end of this month.

Kuppet has also rejected housing, hardship and leave allowances amounting to Sh9.3 billion and said they will only append their signature to the CBA once the basic salary of 50-60 per cent awarded to them by the court is included.

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