Sunday, 27 September 2015

Labour relations court Judge Justice Abuodha’s ruling may have given reprieve and renewed hope  to thousands of school going children but the tussle between the Kenyan teachers’ and the government is far from over. The 25/09/2015 Friday morning ruling contains some statements and judgments that only worsen the near politicized teachers strike.  Worse off, some of these statements have been the reasons the government and the TSC have been banking on to intimidate teachers. The hard-line taken by the teachers union barely 2 hours after the court ruling justifies the porous ruling that failed to peg blame on the two parties.  It will therefore not be surprising if the teachers unions use the following clauses in the judgment to prolong their strike.

1.       Teachers strike is within the law.
This has been the sole reason the government and TSC went to court following an earlier ruling that termed the teachers strike “unprotected”.  It was based on this ruling that teachers employer hauled threats to striking teachers.  The aftermath that saw teachers issued with show-course letters and their September salaries held. The president in his 20th September 2015 address to the Nation rode on the same judgment to urge teachers to resume their duties.
Now that the ruling has been made clear, it remains unclear who will blink first in the ongoing payment row. 

2.       Government in contempt of Court Order.
‘Won’t pay and can’t pay’ proclamation in which Justice Abuodha sited as unreasonable and a sign of defiance to court orders on the side of the government  is another bombshell awaiting the government.  This ruling comes at a time when teachers union had threatened to file a case to have their employer arrested for failing to honor a court order. 

3.       Government Failure to give audience to teachers
The 25/09/2015 Justice Abuodha ruling blamed the recurrent teachers strike to the previous Kenyan governments including the current regime. The ruling noted that the Kenyan governments have failed to give an ear to the teachers’ woes.
With the current happenings and the near politicization of the teachers’ strike that is slowly closing avenues for sober negotiations; it is evident that having lasting solutions for the recurrent teachers strike will remain a pipe-dream.
The unwillingness to have the government honor their side of bargain or engage directly with union leaders to have this embarrassing strike closed is an answer to the reason why the teachers strike may take a while. 

Way forward
Government is already in court contempt and teachers should not follow suite. It will therefore be prudent if teachers obey court order and resume their duties to allow our children to sit for their examinations as their union leaders sit for further negotiations with the government.
Failure to reach an agreement should lead to an automatic strike since teachers will have more powers over the government. 

Reagan Nyadimo
An assistant Business analyst
Jamii Bora Bank.
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