Teachers' union officials. Photo courtesy of www.standardmedia.co.ke

Teachers’ union officials. Photo courtesy of www.standardmedia.co.ke

By Cyrus Kioko

Teachers have despised the Employment and Labor Relations Court orders to suspend ongoing strike for 90 days and give room for negotiations and return to class. The order which directed all teachers to resume to classes on Monday September 28, 2015 saw no effects as teachers remained away from schools and public schools remained closed.

After the court orders, the government directed the re-opening of all public schools on Monday and announced new term dates running until November 20.

However, on Sunday night  Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion directed teachers not to report to work the following day (Monday) claiming that the strike was protected and legal. Indeed as of yesterday, schools did not have teachers as they stayed away.

In his official twitter account, Mr. Sossion urged teachers to stay away from school until otherwise directed by KNUT.

 

This made public schools to remain closed for the fourth week since the strike begun early September despite the intervention by Teachers Service Commission (TSC), government and the Employment and Labor Relations Court. The KNUT secretary general on Monday went further to thank the teachers for harkening to his call not to report to school and urged for the same unity as they purge for the pay raise.  

Teachers’ disobedience to court comes moments after the President did the same where he declined pay rise court order for teachers claiming it was a ‘court error.”

In his lengthy speech addressing the country on the ongoing teachers’ strike, he revealed how his government was unable to pay the teachers the increment percentage they claimed.

“The fact of the matter is that to pay this award, we would have to raise VAT from 16 percent to 22 percent, OR borrow more money OR suspend critical development programs and essential services in health, in education and in security. Raising taxes, borrowing more money or cutting back on development programs will raise the cost of living, slow down our economy, and increase unemployment and poverty. None of these options is tenable. Our country must live within its means,”

claimed president Uhuru on his speech concerning the strike.

Other officials in the government backed up the president on the incapability of paying teachers despite the Industrial Court awarding teachers a 50-60 percent pay raise.

The two parties now (government and teachers) have disobeyed the courts orders seeing Kenyans left with a question of who should obey court orders.

Teachers who spoke to Kenya monitor anonymously due to fear of victimization claimed that Kenya is a democratic country but the leader directs the behavior of the rest.

“If the President and his government cannot obey court orders, we will also give a deaf ear to the order,” said a male teacher in Nairobi.

“We are all equal before the law. If the president cannot hearken to the court orders, we will not also,” said a female teacher who sought anonymity.

The result of the battle between the two bodies is yet to be predicted as the president is out of the country on official duty.

It is also unsure whether TSC will obey the industrial court order to pay the teachers’ September salary.

But perhaps the move by KNUT to seek guidance from the same court before deciding how to advice teachers, likely today, should provide better light on the matter.