Teachers’ union boss Wilson Sossion (pictured) is describing the current Teachers Service Commission offensives as the “worst form of attack” on the union.
With nearly 4,000 union staff having gone without salary for two months and the union’s operations grinding to a halt, and its members’ cash recovered, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General says TSC is hellbent on killing the union.
“If there are issues the employer has with the union, they cannot transfer their anger to workers,” said Sossion.
The union has locked horns with the TSC over the commission’s move to stop the remittance of dues, recovery of the previous benefits of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) from teachers and the creation of two parallel payrolls for tutors.
According to Knut, since signing the first-ever CBA on October 26, 2016, it has continued to engage TSC in structured and constructive dialogue for the purpose of maintaining industrial peace.
In the CBA, the two parties agreed to ensure expeditious settlement of reported industrial grievances, and strictly observe grievance handling mechanism as recommended in the CBA and the law.
“Today, TSC is involved in unconstitutional, unfair labour practices and it is illegal. They have decided to openly antagonise teachers who are in Knut, they have have treated court orders with contempt,” he says.
Last month, the union boss says, some teachers got negative salaries when their employer, against the law, decided to recover about Sh10,000 in benefits.
“Once a CBA has been signed and deposited in court and certificate issued, it became law and it benefits all the workers -- union and non-union -- you cannot turn around and withdraw it unilaterally,” he insists.
The union is at a loss as to why TSC is hellbent on affecting the teachers money when the CBA has been appropriated in the 2019-2020 Budget Statement which was passed by Parliament.
The secretary general reads malice in the actions. He says TSC is desperate to have him kicked out of the helm so that they can have their way.
He says; “The commission had stopped remittance of dues and developed a parallel salary system for our members and the branches as a strategy; you starve the troops and incite them to kill the general.”
The different salaries for teachers, he says, are an illegality under the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention employment Act. “When we have a CBA, all members and non-members of Knut benefit. Clearly, the difference in the salaries effected by TSC is borne out of malice.”
Though the union has been committed to working harmoniously with the Government, in particular TSC in negotiating the terms and conditions of service for teachers, the commission has instead adopted a hard stance, he said.
The matters in contention, according to the trade union, are transfer of teachers under the de-localisation programme, promotion based on the three schemes of service, the implementation of performance management tools and professional development.
The conciliator successfully conducted sessions with both TSC and Knut. At the end of the exercise, the conciliator presented a detailed report to Justice Byram Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Based on the report, Justice Ongaya ordered TSC to cease using Career Progression Guidelines in promoting teachers.
He also ordered that Knut officials be transferred within respective geographical areas they are elected to represent and head teachers/ principal be allowed to be union officials.
It also asked TSC to undertake teacher promotion in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Regulations for Teachers and convene validation meetings for performance measurement tools.
Justice Ongaya also ordered that the Teacher Professional Development modules in dispute should be suspended as they fall short of professional development programmes.
Knut has argued that the court stopped implementation of TSC’s illegal programmes.
The union claims that despite the court orders, TSC has operated with impunity in their operations.
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