TSC threat to cut links with teachers' union

Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion and former Knut chairman Mudzo Nzili in a past function. [File]

The Government has moved to strip the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) of the rights to defend teachers after a relationship spanning more than half a century.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has given the workers' body a two-months notice to terminate its recognition agreement after its membership numbers fell below 50 per cent of the required threshold.

The decision means that Knut will only continue to exist as a shell, a far cry from its heydays when it represented thousands of teachers across the country.

Knut will not participate in Collective Bargaining Agreements and teachers' agency fees will go to its competitor, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) which now stands as the recognised labour union.

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The union will not represent teachers anywhere because its attachment to TSC is non-existent.

Moreover, all Knut executive secretaries on secondment to TSC will go back to the classroom as ordinary teachers, while those who have reached retirement age will be sent home.

The TSC, in its notice of termination November 4, was clear that it will no longer engage Knut.

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“… the commission hereby issues a two months’ notice to Knut to terminate and /or revoke the termination agreement dated 15th May 1968. Knut does not have the simple majority of unionisable members under the employment of the Teachers Service Commission as at 4th November 2019,” the notice stated.

It added: “Take notice that in view of Section 54(5) of the Labour Relations Act, the commission has simultaneously made the requisite application to the National Labour Board,”

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The notice was signed by TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia.

In recent months Kuppet has eaten into Knut's membership and reduced its numbers to less than 110,000, the required threshold for recognition.

Under Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, the union has been a thorn in the flesh of the Government as it sought to protect members from what it called 'mismanagement'.

Last week, TSC de-registered Mr Sossion as a teacher, effectively pulling the rug from under the feet of the man who has steered the union since 2013.

But Sossion yesterday said that "TSC is fighting a war it cannot win".

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He claimed TSC had been intimidating teachers and forcing them to join Kuppet in a bid to cripple Knut.

Sossion told The Standard that TSC has so far removed 18,000 teachers from Knut's register and transferred them to Kuppet.

"This sustained war that is uncalled for. It is being waged by the chair and CEO of TSC. They are waging a war that we do not understand. TSC convenes meetings to invite members to pull out of the union. Knut will not be dismantled. That is the imagination of individuals at TSC," said Sossion.

He continued: "Revocation of the agreement is not as easy as they think. The agreement has been there since 1968. Who are these coming in 2019 to fight teachers and to dictate the leadership of the union? We cannot allow an individual to fight us as we watch. They are inviting a war which they will not win.

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