The agony of retired teachers waiting several years to get their pensions could soon end if the law is amended to empower their employer to pay the dues almost immediately.
The radical move will reduce the long wait the 312,060 teachers under the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) payroll are likely to undergo when they exit teaching.
The National Assembly Education Committee has vowed to amend the Pensions Act to allow TSC to promptly process and pay pensions to its retired staff.
The MPs said thousands of retired teachers languish in poverty many years after exiting service due to the long process of remitting the dues.
Committee Chairperson Julius Melly said the amendment will be fast tracked because retired teachers are leading desperate lives, with some dying before receiving their pay.
Retired teachers have been pushing for payment of their pension, with the matter taken to court over delayed dues. Some claims have gone on for more than a decade.
The move by the Education committee will be welcomed by 22,000 teachers who have been pushing for their pensions since 2003.
The teachers should be paid upwards of Sh16.7 billion following a pay deal successfully negotiated by teachers’ unions in 1997.
Under the deal, all teachers – serving and those who were on leave pending retirement – were awarded lump some pay over and above their monthly salaries.
The details are contained in one of the landmark rulings on retired teachers by Chief Justice David Maraga, then a High Court judge.
Justice Maraga ruled that all teachers are entitled to full increment at the time of their retirement. He ordered that all retired teachers covered by the 1997 deal were entitled to full retirement benefits.
This meant that TSC was to pay some Sh16.7 billion up to 2003, targeting some 22,000 teachers.
Following the ruling, Director of Pensions Shem Nyakutu has since been fined Sh200,000 by the court for failure to obey orders and a 30-day imprisonment pronounced on him.
It is this back and forth that informed the committee’s plan to amend the law to end the trouble.
“We must end this once and for all so that TSC can recruit, remunerate and also pay pensions to reduce pain and suffering after they exit teaching service,” said Melly.
The MP’s proposal was adopted by the committee last week when top TSC officials appeared before it.
TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia led the team to Parliament.
Dr Macharia said TSC only processes the pension dues, confirm them and forward the file to pensions department.
Melly said some teachers who retired up to four years ago are yet to be paid.
“It is a pity that teachers serve this country diligently but when they retire they are neglected, with some even dying before enjoying their savings,” said Melly.
The pensions debate emerged when TSC indicated that it does not have any pending bills.
“There are no pending bills. But due to austerity measures, the commission is likely to have pending bills by the end of the financial year,” said Macharia.
Malava MP Malulu Injendi questioned why TSC said it has no pending bills when retired teachers are yet to be paid.