Knut threatens to pull out of pay rise case, claims Uhuru speech influenced judges

A court has postponed its ruling on a TSC appeal regarding the teachers’ pay dispute to next Tuesday, to allow preparations by Knut.


A hearing on the teachers’ pay dispute at the Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

The union asked the Court of Appeal for time to weight its options saying the President’s speech last Sunday amounted to influencing judges.

Knut lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of interfering with judges in the dispute by giving a public address on a matter pending in court.

“The President’s speech is direction to this court. We need to take instructions on whether to take part in this matter,” Abdullahi said on Tuesday.

“As lawyers we need to consider if we want to participate in this case. Our clients also want to reconsider whether there is a level playing ground.”

The union also contested an earlier ruling that saw judges accept to hear the government’s appeal case as the main one, and the teacher’s application secondarily.

“Your order has given the court a trajectory that has a profound impact on how this case will end,” Abdullahi told a three-judge bench.

He told Justices Erastus Githinji, Philomena Mwilu and Festus Azangalala there have been instances when courts have bent to the wishes of the Executive.

AG Githu Muigai said Uhuru merely pointed out facts on the “matter of great national significance” and did not try to interfere with the case.

Muigai termed the claim by Knut a “shameless and empty threat only meant to delay to delay the hearing”.

He said the teachers’ application came as a “tremendous surprise” to him as the law must count for both parties.

But Abdullahi said the AG should have apologised on behalf of Uhuru, adding; “I am happy to hear the AG saying he stands for justice for the first time since he assumed office.”

Attorney Fred Ngatia opposed the “delay tactic” saying there would be “total anarchy” if lawyers were allowed to withdraw from cases whenever they pleased.

The decision follows the government’s opposition to a June 30 ruling by Judge Nduma Nderi, that awarded teachers a 50 to 60 per cent basic pay rise over four years.

The order covering July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017 means the TSC has to award teachers an annual salary hike of between 12.5 per cent and 15 per cent.

The government appealed against the salary increase saying it cannot be effected as it was not considered in the 2015/16 budget and would raise the wage bill from 52 to 61 per cent.

The court had initially suspended the ruling on condition that the government granted the basic salary increase, but this was not implemented prompting teachers to file a contempt of court case.

The court will decide whether to appoint a five or seven-judge bench to hear the case.