It also emerged a demand that a new deal is back-dated two years would be included in a common memorandum that the two unions are required to file in court by Monday.

TEA

Kenya National Union of Teachers? ( Knut) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers? (Kuppet) officials explained they were confident that the historic arbitration of the protracted pay dispute by the Industrial Court presents the best opportunity for a salary increase for their members. ?Even if we are given Sh1 as salary increment, then it shall be fine because what the teachers wanted is a basic pay rise,? said Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion.

Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori claimed it was now certain that unions would get a salary increment determined by the court. ?We shall also have a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed and deposited (with the court). This is a double score for teachers because if we stuck to the negotiation table it would be difficult to achieve all these,? Misori told members.

The ruling by Justice Nduma Nderi on Wednesday brokered an end to the eight-day nationwide strike that paralysed learning in public schools. The Standard established the State had been planning measures to break the spirit of the strike, including pressing for Sossion?s arrest for alleged violation of court orders, and withholding January pay for teachers had the strike escalated.

Abandoned role

On Thursday, it also emerged that teachers would demand that any offer awarded by the court be backdated to January 2013. The teachers? lawyer Paul Muite said the CBA was to undergo a four-year cycle, which must be respected. ?In the memorandum we shall be demanding that all payments be backdated to January 2013. The CBA cycle was 2013 to 2017,? he said.

Misori revealed the two parties disagreed on basic pay increment which led to Justice Nderi ruling the court would take over further negotiations. ?The unions presented their arguments and the judge made several observations. He said TSC ( Teachers Service Commission) had abdicated its mandate and allowed salaries and allowances be determined by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and Government,? said Misori.

He said teachers argued that the allowances offered were not negotiated by the unions and therefore did not have the critical input of teachers. ?The teachers also argued that the Government had placed a 50-60 per cent salary increase which made teachers revise their demand from 300 to between 100 and 150 per cent,? he said.

Misori said Justice Nderi then asked the TSC to consult and make an offer to teachers or allow the court to take the arbitration role as per the Labour Relations Act. ?When TSC returned, they said they did not have the power to make an offer. So the teachers decided that the court takes over the matter. This was the best decision we have ever made as unions,? said Misori.

Sossion noted teachers could not take another round of talks with the TSC as several attempts had failed. ?We got where we are because they refused to take the talks seriously. How silly could we be to go down the same route?? he asked.

The two officials separately spoke to The Standard with Misori saying the two unions had taken notice of the ?Government propaganda machinery? and opted to unite for a common purpose. ?We saw them and we knew they were not up to any good. We decided to work together to form a formidable force that would not be divided,? conceded Misori.

It also emerged the Government wanted Sossion charged for alleged violation of court orders and teachers who participated in the strike, punished.

Fresh details from the Wednesday court proceedings indicate TSC asked to commence contempt proceedings against Sossion for ignoring an earlier court order barring him from engaging in strike.

A Government lawyer who was present in court argued the teachers? employer maintained that Sossion did not have ?right of audience? in the court whose orders he never honoured.

The TSC, SRC and Labour ministry all had legal representation in court as did Knut and Kuppet.

On Thursday, Sossion said he read mischief in the Government?s strategy and alleged there was a plan to jail him. ?First they wanted to disrupt the day?s core business. They wanted to jail me so that I cease being the secretary general of?Knut. That is what they did to the union?s first secretary general Joseph Kioni in 1970,? reflected Sossion.

?After the establishment of Knut, Kioni led four successful strikes that saw teachers get maternity leave, salary increment among other benefits. He also led a strike that saw the establishment of TSC. But the Government came up with trumped up charges that he misused union dues and sent him to jail. That is how he lost his seat,? charged Sossion.

Sossion alleged the Government was still keen to ?victimise union officials? even after the court directed there would be no victimisation of those who went on strike.

?In 2013, they commenced contempt proceedings which we appealed at the High Court. The case is still active. These people knew that a similar case would see me thrown to jail,? he said.

He said Justice Nderi rescued the situation. ?He was a sober judge. He asked the TSC to concentrate on the current matters at hand. He also set aside the parents? case and that is how the matter was rested, moving forward.?

A parents? body moved to court asking for temporary orders restraining Sossion and Knut members from calling the strike.

By Augustine Oduor, The Standard

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