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Teachers woes far from over as they head to Supreme Court over longstanding pay row

By AUGUSTINE ODUOR AND KAMAU MUTHONI | December 19th 2015 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) moved to the Supreme Court yesterday seeking to overturn the judgement by Appellate Court judges on account that they erred on the role of Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) in setting salaries.

The Wilson Sossion-led union  stated that judges  Otieno Odek, Festus Azangalala, Philomena Mwilu, Martha Koome and Erastus Githinji also erred in finding that the 50 to 60 per cent salary increase had been illegally offered by the commission and awarded by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

“The learned judges of the appeal erred in law in their finding that the offer on basic salary by the first respondent to the appellant of 50-60 per cent increase was statutory illegal and unconstitutional,” the court papers read.

Knut, in its papers filed in the registry, hold that the commission has no role in setting teachers salaries and its advice cannot be binding to the Lydia Nzomo-led Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

“The learned judges erred in finding that the first respondent (TSC) is bound by the advice of the second respondent (SRC) in performing its mandate conferred by the Constitution,” the court papers read in part.

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The union, through Oraro and Company Advocates, further said that the judges erred in finding that SRC’s mandate in job evaluation exercise supersedes those conducted by independent commissions.

It now remains for the State, through Attorney General Githu Muigai and the two commissions, to fight down 11 grounds raised by the union, and all based on the role of SRC in remuneration and job evaluation.

Ironically, Knut entered the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) as a respondent though they had been battling for better pay on the same side of the court. In the document filed yesterday, the court is being asked to allow the appeal by Knut.

Knut Secretary General Sossion, in a press briefing, said the union moved to court as "a cautionary measure" in case TSC continues to obstruct an amicable resolution to the pay stalemate.

“We have accordingly today (Friday) filed our appeal in the Supreme Court. Knut makes it clear that if and when dialogue leads to an amicable resolution of the dispute, its appeal in the Supreme Court will be promptly withdrawn,” said Sossion.

Sossion accused TSC of  "going round in circles" even after President Uhuru Kenyatta intervened that salary talks kick off.

 

“Following the welcome intervention by the President to have the dispute between TSC and teachers unions resolved amicably and speedily without delay, Knut has spared no effort in engaging the TSC, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Ministry of Labour in an effort to resolve the dispute,” reads a statement released by Sossion yesterday.

Sossion says that the cabinet secretaries of both ministries have supported meaningful and structured dialogue to move the dispute forward towards a resolution. Sossion said the appeal decision was made at the Annual Delegates Conference last week.

A Knut letter to Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie requests that a conciliator is appointed immediately to fast track the pay talks. “...Pursuant to the presidential directive of November 11, we urge you to fast track the appointment of a conciliator to commence the negotiations between the unions and the TSC towards concluding and registering the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on or before December 25, 2015,” reads the letter by Sossion.


teachers salaries KNUT TSC supreme court
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