By: HENRY WANYAMA
TREASURY boss Henry Rotich dampened teachers’ spirits last night, after he remained noncommittal about whether the government will pay new salary rates approved by the Supreme Court.
He announced that the government will study the ruling that gave teachers a 50-60 per cent pay rise, then provide an assessment on the possible options.
“We will talk after we have a full analysis of the ruling,” Rotich in an SMS.
His Education counterpart Jacob Kaimenyi and the Teacher’s Service Commission remained silent.
Reliable sources within government said the ruling had been discussed at a high-level meeting amidst fears that if the award is implemented, civil servants will also demand an increase because both groups had their salaries harmonized in 2012.
While TSC is supposed to implement the order and pay teachers in four years, it would only require an initial 12.5 per cent, or Sh17 billion, to pay the 288,000 teachers in a year.
TSC argues that this would have cost the commission Sh73 billion if the four years were to start from July 1 2013, as directed by the first order of the Employment and Labour Relations Court on June 30.
However, on July 22, the Court of Appeal ordered TSC to instead pay the teachers at the end of August.
But in a twist of events, TSC, while awaiting the ruling by the Supreme Court yesterday, had already prepared the teachers’ payroll by August 18, in a bid to circumvent the anticipated ruling.
The extraordinary move by TSC sets the stage for either industrial action or a return to the Court of Appeal, demanding that TSC boss Nancy Macharia be charged with contempt of court orders that directed the teachers be paid by September 3.
The Supreme Court said it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate over the teachers’ 50 to 60 per cent salary increments.
With the highest court in the land distancing itself from the case, the government has no choice but to pay educators countrywide Sh12 billion as increment at the end of the month.
Failure to pay the money would mean a case in the Court of Appeal would stand dismissed and Treasury will instead be compelled to pay Sh67 billion as ordered by the Employment and Labour Relations Court on June 30, backdated to the year 2013.
Court of Appeal judges Mohamed Warsame, Sankale Kantai and Jamila Mohamed, in a preliminary ruling made on July 22, fixed the hearing of an appeal lodged by TSC for September 22, in which compliance will be looked into.
TSC has already paid teachers the August salaries using the old rates. The body is reported to have paid the money on Friday.
Yesterday, lawyer Paul Muite, for the teachers in the suit, said they will write to TSC, Treasury and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission for payment of the money by Monday.
He said failure to effect the order will be treated as contempt of court.
“The three bodies should make arrangements and pay the money on Monday, failing which the Court of Appeal ruling will take effect as ordered,” Muite said.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court judges said an appeal before the Court of Appeal had not been concluded and cannot grant TSC any injunctive orders.
The five judges who heard the appeal and concurred include Deputy Chief Justice Kalpana Rawal, justices Jackton Ojwang, Mohamed Ibrahim and Smokin Wanjala.
In the final ruling read by Rawal, the court said the TSC application dated August 3 is disallowed, with the commission bearing the costs of the Kenya National Union of Teachers and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers.