Why teachers will not go back to class in January 2019

KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion during aKNUT press conference at the headquarters in Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina/Standard]

Teachers have threatened to go on strike when schools open on January 2, next year over unresolved labour issues.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General Wilson Sossion yesterday said teachers had resorted to industrial action after the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) failed to respond to their concerns.

Transfer of teachers, new statutory deductions, pending promotions and disputed performance appraisals are among the grievances teachers accuse the TSC of ignoring.

Mr Sossion said the union had written to TSC to give the strike notice. “Teachers shall not resume duties until all outstanding matters are addressed to the satisfaction of all teachers,” he said.

Sossion said the transfer of 3,094 teachers had not been approved by the Appointing Board, and were therefore irregular and must be recalled with immediate effect. He said the transfers would disrupt teaching services and families through a "punitive irregular policy of delocalisation".

“It is an illegal action by the employer. Removing the word delocalisation and at the same time transferring a huge number of teachers does not make a difference. It is still delocalisation as initially was,” he said.

Sossion said the union had records of families that had separated in the past because of such transfers, and also those threatened by similar actions, and had vowed not to allow it to happen this time.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta had stopped the transfer of teachers and urged TSC to respect the directive.

Sossion said teachers were angered by the action of their employer for withdrawing the rights of promotion on merit, long service and new, relevant higher qualifications.

He said teachers were effective in teaching, covering the syllabus adequately and fighting off vices of corruption, especially cheating in examinations, yet the employer continued to trample on their labour rights and professional freedom by denying them promotions.

“Teachers demand the immediate reinstatement of all promotions, which include those of all teachers with relevant higher qualifications, long service and exceptional performance in their work by January 2, 2019.”

Teachers also accused their employer of introducing performance appraisal and contracting policy.

“The TSC should withdraw this policy because it contravenes the CBA that requires parties to consult. They must also stop harassing, intimidating and victimising teachers,” said Sossion, adding that teachers would boycott performance appraisal-related activities.

Teachers also want the employer to cover the cost of their continuous capacity building. Sossion yesterday said the financing of the TSC's professional development policy by teachers’ salaries was unconstitutional and against labour laws.

Sossion also faulted the introduction of the 1.5 per cent deduction for the housing scheme and 7.5 per cent pension superannuation.

"Any introduction of the same requires revision of the CBA to compensate for the lost earnings to any new statutory deductions," he said.

He asked parents to prepare programmes that would be beneficial to children while teachers remain on strike.