Teachers suffer blow as unions sign deal without pay increase

Teachers Service Commission (TSC) CEO Nancy Macharia with The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Collins Oyu during signing of the 2021 - 2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Teachers Unions and TSC [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Over 340,000 teachers suffered a major setback yesterday as unions walked from a day-long meeting with the employer empty-handed after signing a deal that does not provide for any salary increments.

Instead, the three teachers’ unions took up a deal that they had initially rejected during the first meeting with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

The deal was signed by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet).

This means that for the next four years, teachers under government payroll are only guaranteed increased maternity and paternity leave days and promotions for teachers in hardship areas. Maternity leave days will be increased to 120 from the present 90, and paternity leaves to 21 days up from 14.

Under the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) deal, TSC will also consider transferring couples to schools near each other (if both are teachers) subject to the availability of vacancies. These are the only guaranteed benefits for the teachers under the CBA that union officials termed as ‘unfortunate’ and too little for their members.

The Standard however established that a consent signed between TSC and Knut earlier in the day yesterday weakened the unions' push for monetary deal leading to the signing of the CBA.

“The court be pleased to stay the whole judgment of employment and labour relations court in Nairobi delivered on July 12, 2019. The matter is hereby marked as settled,” reads the consent between TSC and Knut.

The consent filed before Court of Appeal judges Asike Makhandia, Sankale Ole Kantai, and Pauline Nyamweya unlocked some Sh600 million deducted from its members by their employer but was not remitted.

It also meant that the 15,000 Knut members will get a pay raise from the Sh54 billion pay package where they missed the third and fourth phases of the 2017-2021 CBA.

Insiders said that with the consent filed, Knut was eager to pick the quick gains and this presented a major split from Kuppet who had pushed for money offer.

Realising that Knut and the weaker Kusnet would sign the deal, Kuppet yielded to append their signature.

It emerged that Kuppet was also cautions to press on with their hard-line stand as it would erode the goodwill they have been enjoying with TSC even when Knut was entangled in a bitter fight with the employer.

In the end, all the three union officials signed the nonmonetary deal granting TSC a major win. “We are happy to announce that all parties have reached a deal. We have signed a new CBA 2021-2025 but there is room for strengthening it in the future,” said TSC Chief executive Nancy Macharia. The development now gives TSC the opportunity to roll out the training programme and implement career progression guidelines, performance contracting which were the breaking point between it and the union.

Kenyatta University, Riara University, Mount Kenya University, and the Kenya Education Management Institute (Kemi) were picked by TSC to train the teachers.

The consent means that the TSC is now at liberty to sign a contract with these training institutions to offer the Teacher Professional Development (TPD) programme which had been opposed by Knut under Wilson Sossion.

Dr Macharia said they took into consideration the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) directive. “Although the union's proposal included financial component the commission beseeched them to consider the advice given by the SRC that directed a freeze on salary reviews in the public sector,” said Dr Macharia.

However, TSC said the deal may be reviewed in less than 12 months, proposal unions said was not convincing.

“We have a small window to improve the CBA and we shall see to it that we review this,” said Akello Misori, Kuppet secretary-general.

Misori said teachers' gains from 2017 have been ring-fenced in the new deal and noted that the content of the CBA must be reviewed as stated, once TSC gets the go-ahead.

Knut Secretary-general Collins Oyuu said that even though the monetary gain was missing, negotiations are a process.