TSC, KNUT clash over union membership, transfers and promotions

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) yesterday clashed over whether school heads, their deputies and heads of department should hold leadership positions in unions.

TSC argued that those in management positions in schools should stay out of the unions’ affairs, but Knut said they have a right to vie for any post.

Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Byrum Ongaya yesterday heard the rival submissions from TSC and Knut in a dispute that was filed last year after teachers went on a go slow over implementation of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

At the heart of the dispute is the transfer of teachers, promotions, performance management tools, teachers professional development and career progression guidelines.

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TSC and Knut agreed that teachers, even those in management and who are in the union, should be transferred according to the code of regulations.

“The petitioner has carefully considered Knut’s demand and acceded to henceforth restrict the transfer of elected Knut branch officials within the geographical areas they are elected to serve provided that the said officers are not holding administrative positions in the teaching service,” TSC argued.

Knut has 100 branches across the country with approximately 1,700 officials.

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Meanwhile, TSC maintained that it has the sole power to decide who and when to transfer.

“We humbly submit that no constitutional commission, institution, organisation, state agency or body in Kenya has the constitutional and or legal mandate or authority to perform any teachers management function except for the petitioner,” TSC told Justice Ongaya.

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TSC in its petition wants Knut barred from meddling with transfers.

At the same time, the commission argued that school heads, deputies and teachers in administrative positions earn huge salaries hence should not be unionisable.

Super salary

“As a part of the petitioner’s administrative structure functions at the school level, institutional administrators were concerted to special super salary scales. Accordingly, it is the petitioner’s humble submission that the institution administrators should not be in unions,” the court heard.

TSC argued that teachers who are Knut officials should not be allowed to manage schools as it would amount to conflict of interest.

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“Considering the best interest of the child, school administrators should not be part of union membership. Institution administrators cannot be the mobilisers of industrial action, champions of union welfare and at the same time managers of the employer’s administrative structures,” TSC argued.

TSC also agreed that it would not subject Knut to career progression guidelines.

On the other hand, the union wants TSC to use the existing scheme of service that details career progression for non-graduate teachers, graduate teachers, technical teachers and lecturers.

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