Atwoli wades into Knut, TSC, perennial disputes
The Central Organisation of Trade Unions – Kenya (Cotu-K) yesterday dismissed claims that it has failed to engage in a bid to help end the ongoing labour dispute between Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
In a statement , Secretary General Francis Atwoli said the organisation has been at the forefront of mainstreaming issues affecting Knut and seeking a sustainable solution.
“We have, twice, sought an appointment with the President to have a discussion about the issues.
We have had six meetings with the Labour Cabinet Secretary to discuss this issue but TSC has boycotted all these meetings and defied any attempts to mediate,” he said.
Atwoli’s statement, posted on his twitter account handle, was in response to Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua, who had questioned the role of Cotu-K in ending the stalemate between Knut and TSC.
“Terrible to witness a sustained government’s effort to kill the premium teachers union Knut without any solidarity from Cotu-K.
Atwoli and indeed the entire workers movement should realise that this is an attack on labour rights enshrined in the Constitution,” Karua stated.
But Atwoli responded, saying Cotu-K persuaded the Parliamentary Committee on Labour to summon both Knut and TSC after which it called the two parties to give direction, but the latter wrote back alleging ‘that the committee had lost locus standi to intervene in the matter.
He also told Karua that Cotu-K wrote to International Labour Organisation (ILO) to seek his indulgence in resolving this issue as well as to Global International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to seek its support to also step in.
ITUC then wrote to the President, calling for his intervention. Atwoli said the workers’ trade union convened meetings for all Cotu-K affiliate unions General Secretaries to discuss the matter.
“…Therefore, it is unfair of you and any other person to make unfounded claims and accusations that misinform the public and misinterpret facts.
We, however, urge you to continue being in solidarity with Knut and the labour movement in Kenya,” added Atwoli.
To which Karua responded: “Thanks for your response, Atwoli, but you need to do more because a threat to one union is a threat to the entire labour movement. Secondly, if you make it your agenda, the President will listen. Speak louder to this issue brother!”
As this happened, TSC called out to all teachers and urged them to remain focused in their profession.
“Good morning teachers. We encourage you to remain focused on your high calling of teaching and shaping the lives of these young Kenyans.
I cannot think of a higher job than being a teacher. Keep going, we are backing you,” TSC tweeted.
A fresh row looms between TSC and Knut over funds, as the latter accused the commission of withholding funds needed to run union’s activities, including its elections.
Despite financial constraints, Knut elections for all 110 branches commenced over the weekend and have been staggered to end on March 20.
Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion has repeatedly urged TSC to drop its ego wars and do what is right, particularly with regards to paying tutors their dues.
Sossion said TSC has been punishing the union, denied them dues and even removed Knut members from the official register in an attempt to cripple its operations.
“We have told our members, do not shut down any branch and we will not lay off any worker.
Even without salaries, we will withstand this pressure. When we do not get any salaries and our resources to work, the only thing we can think about is war with you (TSC) and we are bringing it over to you,” Sossion previously said.
Last week, ODM Party leader Raila Odinga called for an end to the supremacy battle between TSC and Knut.
Raila told the two bodies to return to the table, go through the rulings of the court and resolutions of Parliament and begin a fresh journey of good faith that benefits all as it is clear that honesty is the missing link in the search for a solution to their dispute.