A series of well-choreographed forums to express confidence in the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) are underway, a pointer to the escalation of the feud with the giant teachers’ union.
Yesterday, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) defended the independence of TSC in an apparent criticism of its rival Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) that has taken on the teachers’ employer including a proposal on constitutional reforms to weaken it.
Yesterday, plans were underway to have representatives of primary and secondary schools head teachers hold a joint press briefing today in support of the TSC.
And the new kid on the block, Kenya Women Teachers Association (Kewota), confirmed it will hold a media briefing today at 11am to state clear its position on the growing controversy of independence of the TSC.
This is a culmination of events that have seen TSC and Knut pull in opposite directions even as they each call for structured dialogue.
At the centre of storm is the decision by TSC to run parallel payrolls, for Knut members and another for Kuppet.
All Knut members missed out on the salary rise for the third phase of the Sh13 billion Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which was due end of July.
TSC also said Knut members will not be promoted next year, citing court orders that reversed career progression guidelines and introduced the abolished schemes of service, that it said eroded the gains already handed to teachers.
And last week, TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia said the commission will recover monies paid to teachers for the last two years when CBA was implemented.
“... it translates overpayment of salaries which the commission is bound by the law to determine and recover as government liability against the respective teachers,” said Macharia.
Pushed to the wall, Knut now wants teachers taken back to the management of Ministry of Education, with a spate regulator.
What has, however, triggered the latest stroke is the move by Knut to declare war against the independence of TSC, arguing that the employer wields too many powers, which must be trimmed by placing it under the Ministry of Education.
Union Secretary General Wilson Sossion said Knut has already forwarded its proposals to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to include suggestions of taking back TSC to the ministry.
“The commission has grown horns but it is only a matter of time before we de-horn it,” Sossion said.
The Standard has, however, established that Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha), Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) and Kewota will issue strong statements in defence of the TSC.
It emerged that in disowning Knut stand, the associations will advance the argument that TSC draws its funds directly from the exchequer handing teachers an edge in prompt release of salaries and promotion of teachers welfare.
Kuppet and Kewota have already submitted a counter proposal to the BBI, rejecting the firm stand taken by Knut on the independence of TSC.
Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori yesterday said the union strongly supports the preservation of the TSC as an independent constitutional commission with the full spectrum of its current powers to register, employ and manage teachers in the public service.
“This position is informed by history and the reality that TSC is vital to the effective management of the teaching profession,” said Mr Misori.
The decision to support TSC was made following a meeting of the Kuppet National Governing Council.
“Our predecessors fought gallantly to establish an independent commission with the exclusive mandate of managing teachers in Kenya,” said Misori.