The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has asked the Court of Appeal to suspend the hefty pay awarded to tutors for it to open fresh salary talks amid protests from their unions.
The TSC on Wednesday told Appellate judges Mohammed Warsame, Sankale ole Kantai and Jamila Mohammed that they were ready to engage teachers through their two unions, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education (Kuppet), in a bid to reach an amicable settlement.
Lawyers Stella Rutto and Cavin Anyuor for TSC said the commission has no money to honour a High Court judgment that directed the government to raise teachers’ pay by between 50 and 60 per cent, payable in four years beginning 2013.
This means that the government must pay Sh37 billion arrears covering the two years to June by next Thursday.
“We are therefore requesting that the order should be suspended and we be allowed to engage in renewed negotiations over the basic pay increase,” said Ms Rutto.
“Mr Justice Nderi had directed the government to comply by July 30, and we have only eight days remaining for us to comply with the order,” she added.
This prompted a tough response from combative Knut and Kuppet, which insisted the government must clear the arrears in the eight days. Judith Guserwa (for Kuppet) urged the court not to grant the orders stopping TSC from paying.
Budget estimates presented to Parliament show that the combined pay for primary and secondary school teachers would drop from Sh153 billion to Sh152.8 billion in the year ending June 2015.
The TSC had earlier said it was ready to offer teachers Sh9.3billion in house and hardship allowances and a newly introduced leave allowance starting July 1 this year.
But teachers rejected the package and insisted on a rise in basic salaries. This prompted the court case after the government maintained it had no additional offer to the tutors whose pay accounts for 38 per cent of the Sh418 billion public servants wage bill.
TSC want teachers’ salary increase effected after a job evaluation of public servants pay is complete.
Lawyer Paul Muite (for Knut), however, opposed the request to have the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) review teachers’ pay, saying it is only the TSC which is mandated under the Constitution to perform such a role.
Lawyer Anyuor said the SRC evaluation will resolve the basic pay dispute and emphasised that the outcome of the renewed negotiations will be acceptable to all parties including the Treasury, the SRC, the TSC and teachers.
The SRC through lawyers Pheroze Nowrojee and Paul Nyamodi, said that the Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge erred when he failed to recognise that the SRC is the body empowered by the Constitution to review salaries of public servants.
“The job evaluation was started about four months ago and may take long but we can assure the teachers that their salaries will be reviewed at the end of the exercise,” explained lawyer Nyamodi.