By: ERIC MATARA
Thousands of retired teachers who have been waiting for Sh 42.3 billion in salary and pension arrears for 17 years got relief on Thursday after the High Court ordered their employer to immediately release the money.
Justice Janet Mulwa directed the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to work with the Treasury, the Controller of Budget, the Auditor-General, the director of pensions and other relevant offices to settle the debt.
“There is no escaping paying these teachers who delivered their services to the government for several years,” she said, adding that the respondents’ rights had been trampled upon by the relevant government bodies since October 2008.
The judge accused the commission of “feet-dragging” in the matter despite a 2006 High Court judgment that ruled in favour of the retirees.
Justice Mulwa dismissed forthwith an application by the TSC filed in March 2015 seeking a review of the orders issued on April 2012.
The court also declined to allow the TSC more time to pay the money, saying the retired teachers’ endless battles with their employer have to end.
The former teachers sued the commission in 2006, claiming unpaid lump-sum salary raises and accrued pension from July 1997.
WON THE CASE
The retirees won the case on October 23, 2008 before Judge David Maraga, who ruled that all retired teachers covered by the 1997 agreement were entitled to their revised retirement benefits.
Efforts by the TSC to challenge the award through the Court of Appeal were futile after a three-judge bench validated the orders.
The retirees have been entangled in endless court battles with the commission since 2008, with the court deferring the imposition of a six-month contempt of court jail term against then TSC boss Gabriel Lengoiboni three times.
Mr Lengoiboni on several occasions attached his communication with the Treasury in which he had requested an allocation of Sh14.7 billion for the retirees’ salary arrears.
The retirees, who flocked the court on Thursday in the company of their lawyer, Dominic Kimatta, praised the landmark judgment, saying justice had prevailed.
Mr Kimatta said he would serve the relevant government offices with the judgment for implementation.