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TSC to still pursue case against teachers’ unions

The Teachers Service Commission has vowed to continue with its case against teachers at the Court of Appeal despite opposition from union leaders.

TSC head of communication Kihumba Kamotho said it is in the interest of the labour sector and indeed good industrial relations for the Court of Appeal to make its findings on whether employees can go on strike without giving a notice.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) last week demanded that the Commission withdraws the appeal.

The appeal arises from a September 2015 judgment of the Employment and Labour Relations Court in which Justice Nelson Abuodha ruled that the union did not have to give a strike notice before calling the strike.

INDUSTRIAL STABILITY

Mr Kamotho admitted that the commission had indeed written to TSC asking the Commission to withdraw the case.

“The court’s ruling implied that employees can go on strike without following the procedure laid out in the Labour Relations Act. As the employer of more than 300,000 employees in one of the most critical sectors in Kenya, TSC needs to apply the law correctly in executing its mandate,” he added.

He maintained that the appeal should be understood as arising out of a desire to fully understand the labour sector in the interest of stability.

“It is not a fight against the unions. It is in fact in the interest of good labour relations and industrial stability for the correct position in law to be provided by the Industrial Court,” Mr Kamotho said.

He clarified that the Commission does not seek to victimize any employee in any way over the September 2015 strike whatever the outcome of the appeal.

“The strike is behind us. The appeal is purely for posterity in order to ensure harmonious working relationship in future,” he explained.

WORKING RELATIONS

Moreover, he said that TSC and the teachers’ unions currently enjoy good industrial relations as demonstrated in the signing of Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) in June and October last year.

However, Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the commission must respect the firm agreement reached at State House on November 2015 and pronounced by President Uhuru Kenyatta that all parties withdraw all cases from court.

“The CEO (Mrs Nancy Macharia) must make their position known to us within the next seven days,” Mr Sossion said.

He added that proceeding with the case is an act of bad faith and backstabbing despite the tripartite agreement.

“We are prepared this time round to move up to the Supreme Court. It is the height of savage attack on the labour movement and infringement on trade union rights,” the secretary general said.

The case has been set for hearing on May 22.

According to the commission, the judge erred by not appreciating that the strike, which had been called by the teachers’ unions, had been found unprotected in the same suit that was before him.

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