Kenyan Teachers Take Pay Dispute to Supreme Court


Teachers in Kenya have said they will take their fight for better pay to the Supreme Court after their 50-60% pay rise was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The court-ordered wage increase was overturned on numerous grounds – most notably claims it ignored the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s role in coming to a decision.

“The advice of commission is binding because it has a legal support anchored in the Constitution. To hold otherwise will be to render the commission impotent. It is not like a friendly advice which can be taken or ignored,” said Judge Prof Odek.


Teacher pay rise overturned

The Teachers Service Commission’s (TSC) refusal to pay the wage increase, initially ordered by the courts, was the main factor in a five-week teacher strike that only ended last month.

The ruling was set on June 30 when Mr Justice Nderi awarded the salary increase from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2017. This backdating of the pay rise was also disputed by the Supreme Court, with Prof Odek criticising the act of indebting the TSC to teachers.

Mr Justice Nderi’s ruling was also confronted on grounds that the law doesn’t empower Labour Court judges to resolve issues between parties. While the issue of teachers’ relatively high pay compared to other civil servants was also raised.

“The judge should have made a scientific award taking into account the fact that the salaries for the teachers had already been harmonized with other civil servants. Implementing the award will make teachers earn much higher,” Mr Justice Azangalala said.


Teachers vow to take their fight to the Supreme Court

The National Union of Teachers Secretary-General Wilson Sossion vowed not to give up, following the decision.

“We are not about to leave this matter at this stage. It is very clear we anticipated what we have seen and therefore we are still consulting and we will take further appropriate steps next week. In the interest of the labour movement, we must get things right. We are definitely headed to the Supreme Court.”


Feature image:

flickr photo shared by The Alliance of Religions and Conservation under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license