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Today I am obliged to play the devil's advocate in regards to the TSC v the teachers stalemate. I know I will on some toes but I believe that the truth shall always set us free.
Teachers have every right to demand the dues that they have been fighting for for years and there is no reason to keep them waiting much longer than is necessary. However, that does not give teachers the right to infringe on the right of learners to education by going on strike at the most inopportune time.
Interruptions in teaching at this time of the year have their toll on the final outcome next year when the results are out. For pupils in STD 8 and those in FORM 4, this is the final stretch before they take their exams, some of which are set to begin next month. The disruption is costly to these candidates who are about to sit national examinations in a few weeks. This is a critical phase of revision of the syllabus when the guidance of their teachers is most needed. It is therefore unacceptable for students to be taken hostage by teachers demanding their salaries.
Let me make this clear. I just am advocating for millions of students in public schools, whose parents cannot afford education in private ones. That family that can hardly make a dollar a day and the only hope for their kids' bright future is the free education programme in public schools. There is need for deeper reflection so that the strike does not seem to serve parochial interests at the expense of the students, who tend to suffer as innocent bystanders. The welfare of students must take precedence.
As for the standoff, KNUT & KUPPET should stop lying to the teachers and the world that Supreme Court's ruling meant that the teachers' battle on their salaries was over. Far from it. The victory that the are celebrating has been advanced on the false basis that the Supreme Court ruled that enhanced salaries should be paid. It never ruled that their employer was to pay them the hiked salaries. The Unions bosses are riding on Kenyans' ignorance just to play victim and win their support. It is about their survival.
First, teachers cannot attempt to sidestep the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) by choosing to pursue a pay rise through the courts.
Under the Constitution of Kenya Article 230 (4), SRC is the only mandated body with the powers to set and regularly review the remuneration and benefits of all State officers; and advise the national and county governments on the remuneration and benefits of all other public officers (teachers included). It is also mandated to supervise and monitor the determination of salaries, allowances and benefits (financial and otherwise) made in accordance with Division VIII.1A of the constitution and SRC Act by the Parliament. Therefore, there is no way the teachers can solve this stalemate without SRC in the picture. Teachers have to wait for SRC to complete its job evaluation exercise and give out the new salaries guidelines to be used.
Secondly, a pay hike for the teachers at this time risks to shoot the wage bill too high since it will not only affect teachers but it will also drag along other civil servants due to the salaries harmonization rule. Other unions will jump in and demand fairness. No wonder the Trade Unions Congress of Kenya (TUC-K) and COTU are in support of teachers.
I believe that the government is not in a position to raise that kind of amount to give its workers a pay rise. That may imply raising taxes as an option bearing in mind that Kenyans already suffer the yoke of heavy taxation. Raising taxes to fund the award will have a negative impact on the growth of the economy and on jobs creation and is therefore not advisable.
Other stop-gap measures like the government putting the school laptop project on hold and use the Sh17.58 billion set aside for the project to pay teachers is also simplistic thinking. You cannot keep on hold a long-term goal for a course that can wait. The teachers' salary is not an emergency sorry to say.
Arguing that government did not need a budget to bail out Mumias sugar or Kenya Airways but not ready to borrow in order to pay teachers is a populistic arguments by the Union bosses and the members of the opposition aimed at scoring political Bonga Points. Borrowing would also push the lending rates high and subsequently have an effect on the economy. The government cannot borrow to finance the increment as the Public Finance Management Act 2012 prohibits borrowing to finance recurrent expenditure.
When I go back to the Supreme Court ruling, the judges argued that they had no powers to entertain TSC's pleas when there was no intended appeal that was lying before them. It was on the basis of this argument that the TSC plea was dismissed. But going back to the courts' records, we can tell that the Supreme Court erred in its ruling to allow teachers to get the pay rise awarded by a lower court.
TSC had filed a notice of appeal dated July 27, 2015 as well as filing the substantive appeal being petition number 14 of 2015. TSC filed a petition at the Supreme Court seeking to stop a ruling awarding teachers a salary increment of between 50 to 60 percent.
The petition, which was been certified as urgent, came a week after the Court of Appeal upheld a decision by the Industrial and Labour Relations Court to award teachers the increment pending the hearing of the case on September 22nd, 2015.

As things stand now, the salary increase may not be effected. The 2015/2016 financial budget has already been concluded. It did not factor in the teachers’ pay rise and the country’s wage bill is already ballooning. Secondly, the teachers must involve the Salaries and Remuneration Commission in finding the solution to their salary impasse.
I close my case.

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