31 August 2012

Kenya: Court Blocks September Three Teachers' Strike

Nairobi — The Industrial Court has blocked the teachers' strike that was planned to begin next Monday until after a case filed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is heard and determined.

Justice Pyrum Ongaya gave the order following an application by the TSC objecting to the strike.

The Teachers Service Commission argues that the strike was illegal as the Salaries and Remuneration Commission was already addressing pay grievances.

Judge Ongaya also declared that every child has a right to education under the new Constitution.

The strike was called for by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) both demanding pay increases for their members.

Both KNUT and KUPPET are now required to appear in court for the hearing of the case next Tuesday.

The top organ of KNUT met on Wednesday in Nairobi to deliberate on a strike action but did not make clear deliberations.

The union had issued a seven-day notice to the government on August 19 and indicated the strike would officially start when schools open for the third term.

The union is demanding salary increments, and other allowances amounting to more than Sh43 billion, from a deal they signed with the government in 1997 ending a teachers strike.

This amount includes a 300 percent salary increment, alongside responsibility allowance at 50 percent, 40 percent and 30 percent for principals and their deputies, senior teachers and heads of departments respectively.

Last week, Finance Minister Njeru Githae ruled out a pay increase for teachers, instead urging them to wait for the Salary and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to harmonise salaries for all public servants.

"Teachers... give the Salaries and Remuneration Commission time to come up with these proposals and the harmonised salaries. It is only at that time we will be able to look at all sectors which are either below or above the harmonised rate," Githae said last week.

KNUT's rival union, KUPPET is also rooting for 100 percent increase for the salaries of its members.

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