Intern teachers suffers a blow as Court of Appeal suspends employment orders

The Court of Appeal has dashed the hopes of 46,000 intern teachers aspiring for permanent and pensionable employment with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

Justices Asike Makhandia, Sankale Ole Kantai, and Ngenye Macharia suspended the orders from the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC), which had required the commission to convert the internship positions to permanent and pensionable terms.

As a result of the ruling, the TSC, led by Dr. Nancy Macharia, prevails, and the affected interns will remain in their current positions until the case is fully heard and determined.

“The rights of all learners in public schools underpinned under Articles 43 and 53 of the Constitution are on the verge of being violated as the Commission has no financial resources to on-board the 46,000 on permanent and pensionable terms and conditions,” argued TSC lawyer Allan Sitima.

In its application, the TSC argued that Justice Byrum Ongaya’s orders had disrupted its operations, as the funds needed to hire the intern teachers on permanent and pensionable terms were not included in the budget.

The commission contended that the intern teachers were obligated to their contracts, asserting that they had willingly signed these key documents despite being considered for employment next year.

The TSC stated that if their planned appeal succeeds, the case will become a moot point, as new contracts will have already been issued.

Justice Ongaya determined that the intern teachers’ contracts were illegal but ordered that their employment status should remain unchanged.

The freeze on employment was to remain in effect until the commission either obtained temporary orders from the Court of Appeal or reached a settlement.

Judge Ongaya had given TSC a grace period of three months, meaning that it had to seek intervention from the higher court or absorb all the affected teachers on permanent and pensionable terms.

A day after the Judge issued the orders, the Kenya Junior Secondary School Teachers Association (KeJUSTA) wrote to its members saying it is waiting for the interpretation of the term ‘status quo.’

They argued that it was unclear what the judge meant.

“I wish to caution teachers against misguided interpretation of the ruling and the misplacement of the term status quo as it appears in the ruling,” wrote KeJUSTA secretary general Daniel Murithi.

In the case, TSC argued that the judgment would jeopardise its plan to hire those employed as interns in 2025.

“It is in the interest of justice, it appears to the court that it would be appropriate for the status quo prior to the judgment to be maintained with respect to the findings and orders of court in the judgment, pending a compromise or rearrangement of the affairs between parties or applicants filing appropriate application at the Court of Appeal,” he said.

In his judgment, Justice Ongaya argued that TSC had violated the right to fair labour practice by giving those affected internship positions while they were qualified and possess teaching licenses.

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