The struggle by the Teachers Service Commission to kill the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) is almost successful if the latest proceedings are to go by. The commission which is led by Agnes Nzomo and Nancy Macharia since they took office have been working on disabling the unions so that the commission can go on and control their employees who are teachers there favourable direction without facing any resistance.
In the recent months, the commission has been trying to deregister the KNUT secretary General Mr. Wilson Sossion from TSC. Thanks to the court for upholding the law by directing the TSC to retain him. That could not take long, the moribund commission once again deregistered him disregarding the court ruling. The commission which is currently a darling to the Kenya Post Primary Union of Teachers (KUPPET) implemented the CBA for its members unlike those in KNUT.
A row between TSC and KNUT on performance appraisal and contracting, transfers of teachers, promotion and professional development programme moved to court after the commission sued the teachers’ union in a bid to stop a work boycott. The Teachers Service Commission stopped the pay rise of 103,624 teachers who were members of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).
The teachers’ employer said that the payroll for the Knut members was not factored in Phase Three of the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) after a court ordered that terms be based on the schemes of service and not career progression guidelines (CPG) as TSC had wanted.
The commission said that based on the ruling, it could not implement the benefits under the third phase of the CBA. This will applied to 103,624 teachers including headteachers, deputy headteachers and senior teachers. Inevitably, this also led to Knut members losing all the benefits embedded in the CPG as an implementation tool for the CBA. The position was communicated by Mr Kihumba Kamotho, head of communications at TSC. The TSC said that the court judgment necessitated preparation of two parallel payrolls in order to comply with the ruling without disadvantaging teachers who were not Knut members.
Efforts were done to disable KNUT through financing rival group to oust the secretary general but it was in futile. The happenings really angered Mr. Wilson Sossion which prompted him to present his views to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) committee to see TSC scrapped. The proposal is meant to shift teachers to work under the Public Service Commission (PSC). This is not the first time such proposal is raised, in 2004 during the committee that presented the BOMAS draft, such presentations were made but KNUT strongly opposed the move to abolish the commission. But now the parameters are different especially when it’s based on the ballooning wage bill and duplication of roles between Teachers Service Commission and ministry of education officials the proposal can easily be adopted. The question now remains: Will teachers accept the proposal and vote for it in the probable coming referendum?
AUTHOR: Robert Kerre–Vihiga