Knut’s row with rival group ropes in State agencies
By Augustine Oduor
| June 22nd 2019
Sossion writes to EACC demanding probe into how money was deducted from teachers and paid to Kewota.
The scramble for 317,000 teachers by the rival teachers unions is getting murkier with State investigative agencies roped in the turf wars.
At the centre of the renewed battle is the registration of a female teachers association, which has revived the long-running membership rivalry in education sector.
Finer details of the widening divide reveal that the entry of Kenya Women Teachers Association (Kewota) has muddied the waters for the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet).
Sources familiar with the row however revealed that the opening of a three-month window by the teachers’ employer for tutors to decide which of the three outfits they wish to affiliate themselves to has further stoked the membership politics, with the fight now getting muddier.
“Following the roll out of the unions module, the Commission would wish to validate the teachers who are currently subscribed to re-confirm their membership. The validation will be open for three months,” said TSC.
It is emerging that Knut and Kuppet are not comfortable with the new membership validation process, and are using the Kewota as scapegoat
The fight is however so vicious that Knut opened a fresh war with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) accusing it of abetting corrupt practices by hiving off its members.
In a strongly worded letter to Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) CEO Twalib Mubarak, Knut claims TSC hatched a deliberate plot to shore up numbers for the new outfit.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion further claims that Kewota – which targets all female teachers – listed some of its members without due consent of the teachers and commenced deduction of Sh200 every month.
In the letter dated June 20 and copied to Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and Commission on Administrarive Justice, Sossion claims that the actions of TSC have unduly boosted the membership of Kewota.
“Through our investigations, we are convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that the TSC auto loaded a mechanism programmed to deduct the money without the approval of the teachers in collusion with Kewota officials,” said Sossion.
TSC said this month that it is rolling out an automatic subscription portal dubbed T-Pay system. “Though union subscription is through T-Pay, the teacher will still complete duly authorised forms for filing in the personal file at the TSC headquarters as per the laid procedure,” said Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia in a circular dated June 10.
Sossion has however asked the EACC to investigate the matter to establish who authorised the listing of names of teachers to Kewota.
Knut has about 147,000 members against 83,000 of Kuppet. Kewota says it has so far listed more than 70,000 female teachers.
Kewota leadership yesterday fought the union’s claims, accusing them of double standards. National Chairlady Dorothy Muthoni questioned why the two unions have not fought Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha) and Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha).
“They both draw membership from Knut and Kuppet because they are associations like us. We are not a union,” said Muthoni.
Muthoni is a former Knut first national woman representative. Benta Opande, also a former Knut executive officer, is the chief executive officer. The current Knut second national woman representative Jacinta Ndegwa is the national treasurer.
Knut’s top decision-making organ recently passed a resolution warning its female members that they will be ejected if they joined Kewota. Knut National Executive Council (NEC) and National Advisory Council (NAC) vowed to kick out members who join Kewota. “The NEC will not entertain wayward members who collaborate with enemies of the union clandestinely forming associations or unions to rival Knut,” the Knut said.
Kuppet also weighed in the row, alerting its branch executives to stay awake on what it termed “forced membership to Kewota”. “Kindly inform affected members to write a demand/stoppage letter to TSC and give copy to the union for legal action,” said Moses Nthurima, acting secretary general.
Muthoni, however, said Kewota, established in 2007, is purely a female empowerment outfit and dismissed the panic by the two unions as unfounded. She said nearly half of the 317,000 registered teachers are women. The association, she said, targets all the female teachers -- about 150,680 -- across the country under basic education alone. There are some 216,517 teachers in primary and 100,493 in secondary schools. Muthoni said Kewota has evidence of female teachers voluntarily listing to join the association.
“We have talked to about 10 governors and we are engaging more because nursery school teachers are also excited to belong. We have engaged TVET colleges who area also joining,” Muthoni said.
Yesterday, Muthoni said teachers who have erroneously been deducted Sh200 should write to TSC to stop deductions.
“We are not in the business of fraud and we cannot be dragged into petty fights based on unfounded fears,” said Muthoni. She sad that Kewota will not engage in dirty schemes.
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