The threat of a teachers' strike still looms despite talks opening yesterday after a union gave fresh demands.
Hopes for successful talks between Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) were dampened by Knut's warning; that the strike will begin on September 1 if its demands are not addressed.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion wants TSC not discuss contentious labour issues with teachers' associations in reference to a planned meeting with representatives of head teachers. He warned that if this happened, it would lead to a strike.
Sources said Knut got upset after it discovered that delocalisation (mass transfer of teachers) and performance appraisals would form part of the key agenda today, when Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) officials meet TSC.
“How can the employer talk to teachers directly on unprofessional transfers which is a labour issue and duly listed as a point of dispute?” asked Sossion.
In a letter dated August 22, Knut demanded the immediate withdrawal of the invitation letter by TSC to Kessha officials.
“We thus demand your immediate recall of the invitation letter to Kessha and engage with relevant entities known and recognised in law,” said Sossion in the letter.
In an emphatic shift of goal posts, Knut said the meeting with Kessha and Kepsha alone may lead to a strike.
“The commission's actions and omissions are inviting industrial unrest in the education sector,” said Sossion.
TSC invited Kessha and Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) officials to the meeting today to ‘develop a detailed report on areas of improvement’ in the delocalisation policy.
The teachers' employer, however, said yesterday's meeting ended well, and all issues were agreed upon with the union.
In a statement to newsrooms, TSC said the meeting took place in an "open, cordial environment and addressed issues touching on promotions of teachers, career progression, teacher appraisals and transfers".
TSC head of communications Kihumba Kamotho said the two parties agreed to a retreat between September 30 and October 5 to build consensus on emerging issues.
But Sossion insisted the strike threat remains, adding that the union will reject any resolutions made during the meeting between TSC and "non-parties" to the labour issues.
“Whoever TSC meets between now and our next meeting is none of our problem. But if they insist on meeting Kessha then we have our cards to play. We will not entertain any sideshow meetings,” said Sossion.
The next meeting between TSC and Knut is scheduled for September 30.
Details from yesterday's meeting reveal that a committee was established to spearhead the full implementation of the CBA, including the issues in contention. Each side will produce four members to the committee.
During the meeting, Knut insisted that schemes of service be retained or remodelled to cater for all teachers’ progression.
“We restated our demands and no teacher should fill those performance appraisal forms when schools open in September,” said Sossion.