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Kuppet gives TSC 14 days ultimatum to refund housing levy deductions

Education
 TSC CEO Nancy Macharia, KNUT Secretary General Collins Oyuu and KUPPET Secretary General Akelo Misori during the release of 2021 KCPE results at the Mitihani house on March 28, 2022. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Pressure is mounting on the teacher’s employer to refund up to Sh30,000, to the highest paid teacher, deducted as housing levy from July last year.

Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) on Wednesday gave the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) 14 days’ ultimatum to refund the housing levy or face legal action.

Kuppet termed the deductions blatant disobedience of court orders by TSC.

“There is no reason absolutely, that the commission can alienate teacher’s money without a legal foundation. The superior courts have pronounced themselves and it is in the public domain they can’t claim they don’t know the orders and for that reason, they have to return the money,” Kuppet acting secretary general Moses Nthurima said.

Nthurima said that TSC should refund all the deducted money after it emerged that the 406,000 teachers’ payroll suffered housing levy deductions in their February salaries despite the levy being declared illegal.

Kuppet has now threatened to take legal action against the employer.

Last week TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said that the January deductions were effected before the court order.

Dr Macharia told journalists that the the ruling on housing levy came after TSC had paid the salaries.

“We run our payroll on 20th of every month and the ruling came on the 26th,” she said during a media workshop in Nairobi.

In its demands, Kuppet wants a refund of all housing levy deductions since its commencement in July last year.

Calculations by The Standard revealed that the highest paid teacher, who is the chief principal and earns a maximum basic salary of Sh131,380, minus attendant allowances was deducted about sh6,000 each month.

This means that the highest paid have so far been deducted about Sh30,000 while the lowest paid teacher who earns about Sh22,793 has so far been deducted about Sh5,000.

“The government has demonstrated insatiable appetite of defying court orders… Kuppet demands the immediate refund of the illegal deductions, within 14 days failure to do so we shall institute legal proceedings,” Nthurima said.

He said the housing levy deductions are an outright defiance of court orders.

Nthurima further questioned TSC’s excuse for making deductions this month despite the court order.

He revealed that TSC had indicated its intention to refund the deductions in official correspondence with the union.

“The commission last month, in January, said that they had already processed the payroll, this month, they cannot give the same excuse. So as teachers, we are saying that the CEO and commissioners (TSC) are in contempt of court,” Nthurima said.

A payslip by a teacher in job group C3, seen by The Standard, shows that the Commission deducted Sh1,114 as housing levy.

The teacher said that there has been no explanation on the deductions and whether they will be stopped.

“We hoped that this deduction would be stopped this month but we were shocked after downloading the payslip,” the teacher said.

Nthurima said that the commission is independent with powers bestowed upon it by the Constitution and, hence should not play puppet to the Executive.

“TSC is supposed to be independent, they do their own things away from the Executive but now the commission is playing into the hands of the executive… so this is blatant disobedience of the law,” he said.

On February 20, MPs passed the Housing Bill in Parliament during the second reading.

And on February 21, the MPs okayed the Bill during the third reading.

During the House proceedings, a section of the opposition MPs walked out of the chambers as the Bill sailed through after getting a nod from 141 legislators against 58 who opposed it.

The Bill will now be presented before the Senate for deliberation before it is assented to law by the President.

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