In a non-precedented move, Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) moved to court to petition it to declare the ongoing teachers’ strike illegal. at the same time, the union leaders sort the arrest of the TSC official for contempt for failing to honor court directions.
Teachers have filed an application through their unions seeking the arrest of eight top government officials for failing to obey court orders in the salary dispute, while the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) wants the court to declare the indefinite strike now under way illegal.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) instituted contempt of court proceedings against TSC’s two ranking officials, chairperson Prof Lydia Nzomo and chief executive Nancy Macharia.
They have also sued Finance secretary Henry Rotich, Education secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and Labour CS Kazungu Kambi as well as the principal secretaries in the respective ministries.
The teachers want the High Court to issue mandatory orders directing the government officials to effect the complete basic salary increment of 50-60 per cent that was initially awarded by the same court’s judgement.
The Court of Appeal had given TSC a temporary reprieve with the conditional stay stopping payment of backdated dues and instead implementing the pay hike amounting to Sh1.4 billion per month as their appeal is being heard.
The National Treasury has on several occasions said that it does not have the money to pay the teachers as the pay increment, adding up to Sh17 billion for this financial year, had not been budgeted for.
To accommodate the increment in the Budget, the government said that there would have to be cuts in development expenditure, an increase in taxes or more domestic borrowing.
Tutors on the other hand have maintained that the government could source the funds if it stopped corruption and tax evasion.
TSC had filed a fresh application at the Supreme Court seeking the reversal of its decision requiring it to pay the increment but Supreme Court Judge Jackton Ojwang on Thursday declined to issue interim orders that would provide reprieve.
Teachers now claim that, by failing to meet the conditional stay, the government is now liable to pay the full Sh70 billion award.
“(Through) various rulings, both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court have declined to stay the execution of this honourable court’s aforesaid judgement save for a conditional stay, which has since lapsed,” Knut said.
The union says no payment has been made even after writing to the government asking for the same, and their continued disobedience of court orders was unconstitutional.
Tutors want the eight officials to be committed to civil jail for six months each if they fail to comply with the orders effecting the basic pay increment from July 2013.