Kenyan Teachers Ordered to Return to Work

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Striking teachers in Kenya have been ordered to return to the classroom “immediately” following a court ruling in Nairobi.

Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Nelson Abuodha told teachers to suspend the strike for 90 days, so proper negotiations could begin, to lift the stalemate that has dragged on since August 31.

Teachers ordered back to the classroom

The 90-day strike suspension is supposed to take effect immediately and see teachers return to work without delay. Teachers appear defiant though, having reportedly refused to end their strike until they study the ruling and return to court on Monday.

The strike is now in its fourth week and criticism has been placed on both sides for not resolving the situation sooner. However, the dispute between government and teachers over pay actually dates back as far as 1997.

Teachers’ actions partially defended

While the court ruled that teachers should return to work, effective immediately, it also moved to defend their actions and and that of workers unions. The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was ordered to increase teacher wages earlier this year, by the Court of Appeal, and it was the TSC’s refusal to do so that lead to strike action.

The court also ruled that teachers should not be victimised by the government for choosing to strike. Earlier this month the TSC sent warning letters to head teachers, threatening them with he sack unless they returned to work. While reports have also emerged this week that teachers would not be paid for September, but the court moved to rule this out.

“The RSC is also stopped from victimising union members such as salary deduction for periods they were on strike,” said Justice Abuodha.

The judge also accepted Knut lawyer Paul Muite’s request for time to analyse the ruling and directed both parties to return to court on Monday.

 

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