The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has made a passionate appeal to Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) to embrace dialogue a day after the union rejected a request for talks.
In a letter to the Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion dated February 13, TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia asked the union to reconsider its position and embrace bipartite engagement in the spirit of strengthening industrial relation between the parties.
“While making this passionate appeal to Knut, the commission is alive to the fact that disputes between parties is before court; and that in line with Article 159 (2) of the Constitution, the court has encouraged parties to attempt conciliation as a form of alternative dispute resolution.
"To this extent, parties filed their memoranda with the conciliator to facilitate resolution of the matters in dispute,” reads the letter.
Mrs Macharia said the conciliator Mr Charles Maranga in his report to the court recommended further negotiations between parties on all matters forming the dispute, save for issues of teacher professional development modules.
“The commission finds the conciliator’s recommendation for negotiation to be fair in law and procedure as it is not only adherence to the provisions of Article 159 (2) of the Constitution, but also in line with the various international labour organisation (ILO) convention and recommendations providing for alternative dispute resolution,” says Mrs Macharia.
She says that at the very best, alternative dispute resolution ought to be an initiative by litigants to use innovative ways of resolving disputes other than the adversarial process of litigation where parties have no control of the outcome.
“It is from this view point that the commission wishes to allay the Knut fears that engagement in negotiation as an alternative dispute resolution is a means to circumventing the court process. On the contrary, negotiations, as a form of out of court settlement, is judiciously apt as it saves on the court’s time to conclude the matter before it.
"To this extent, the Commission encourages Knut to embrace conciliators recommendations and conclude negotiations with the commission on a raft of issues forming the dispute,’ says Mrs Macharia.
She says the commission remains open to its proposal for a meeting on February 25.
However, Mrs Macharia says should Knut stand by its decision to steer off negotiations, the commission will respect the same and will fully and exclusively engage in arbitration process before the Court.
Mrs Macharia had written to Mr Sossion on February 5 asking for a meeting to address promotion of teachers, career progression guidelines, performance management tools, teacher professional development courses and transfers.
The meeting was to sort out a dispute over whether school administrators should hold elective union positions.