Knut accuses TSC of disobeying President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive during the 2015 Strike, is KNUT trying to provoke horrendous ghosts?
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has now changed gear in it’s battle with the teachers’ employer, TSC.
In the latest twist, the union is now pointing fingers at TSC claiming that the Commission defied President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to withdraw all disputes between them.
In a court application before the Court of Appeal, Knut accuses the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) of going back on its word bordering on the agreement to withdraw all disputes in court as a mandatory condition for the negotiation and conclusion of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
The TSC had moved to the Appeals court after Labour Court judge Nelson Abuodha dismissed its case in 2015 seeking to compel teachers to go back to class.
According to the union, members in 2015 went for a strike triggered by TSC’s failure to honour the 50-60 per cent pay rise awarded to teachers by the Labour Court.
The union further says it withdrew a Supreme Court appeal against the TSC and the Attorney General on the pay rise in grounds that the commission would reciprocate.
“Despite the foregoing, and despite the fact that the parties have since negotiated and concluded a CBA, it is now clear the first respondent (TSC) has reneged on the agreement to withdraw this appeal relating to the dispute and has insisted on proceeding with it, in utmost bad faith and in complete defiance of the President,” argues Knut lawyer John Mbaluto in part.
Consequently, the union will reinstate its Supreme Court case against TSC to strike a balance.
“It is unconscionable and immoral for the first respondent to back-track on the agreement to withdraw cases,” he said, adding that the appeal should be struck out and TSC forced to cater for the costs incurred.
On its part, the teachers’ employer argues that it has a right to pursue the case to the very end.
In reply to Knut, the TSC denied claims that it had gone against the deal struck before the President.
It said the appeal was to clear the air regarding the legality of the 2015 teachers’ strike.
“TSC seeks to have the Court of Appeal pronounce itself on whether employees can go on strike without giving a notice as implied in the ruling by Justice Abuodha,” it said.
“The appeal is, in fact, an attempt to bring predictability and clarity and create stability in the Labour sector. It is not a contest with the union. It is brought out of a desire to advance good industrial relations between the employer and union.”
The Employment and Labour Relations Court in 2015 declared the teachers’ strike as legal but the commission moved to the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling.
Teachers had in 2015 downed their tools for eight weeks and spent close to four months in court, demanding a 50-60 per cent salary Rise.
The TSC challenged the verdict, saying it would require an additional Sh118 billion to implement, which would push the country’s wage bill from 52 per cent to 61 per cent of all revenue collected.
The State, through the AG, argued it would be forced to either raise value-added tax (VAT) from 16 to 22 per cent and increase borrowing, or suspend critical development programmes and essential services.
Justice Abuodha had ruled that a P1 teacher ought to have a 15 per cent increase and the highest-paid teacher was to get a 12.5 per cent raise.