Keep off Knut affairs, Sossion tells TSC

Monday, November 18th, 2019 05:13 |
Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion. Photo/GERALD ITHANA

 By Irene Githinji, Winstone Chiseremi and KNA 

 Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) yesterday vowed to resist any attempts by the employer, to revoke its recognition agreement, saying it is duly registered and will remain in force.

However, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) defended its working relationship with unions, saying it does not intend to constrict their avenues of expression.

In what the Commission described as setting the record straight, chief executive officer Nancy Macharia indicated it will continue to work in harmony with all registered trade unions operating within the teaching service.

She said the commission has no power to register or de-register a union because it is the exclusive mandate of the Registrar of Trade Unions, terming as misleading reports that the Commission is out to kill unions.

“The Commission wishes to assure all teachers that it absolutely has no desire or interest to constrict their avenues for expression and right to union representation,” she said in a statement.

But Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion (pictured) asked TSC to stop meddling with the union’s activities in its attempts to bring it down. Sossion demanded that TSC reverts the official register of about 190,000.

“The custodian of register of teachers is the union and can only be audited by the Ministry of Labour and the office of the registrar, not the employer. Even if the membership was to drop to as low as five, the recognition agreement will remain in place and TSC should be prepared to conclude the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Knut for new salaries and promotion of  teachers,” said Sossion during a press conference after meeting Rift Valley Knut regional council in Eldoret.

Industrial unrest

Sossion asked Knut members to stay calm as the union pushes for the implementation of CBA with TSC and assured its members that the union is pushing for higher perks and allowances to cushion them from economic hardship.

But Macharia explained the Commission has had unstructured relationship with unions until June 2016, when the leadership made a decision to sign CBA with the unions.

She said the objective of the CBA was to promote industrial harmony and constructive social dialogue in the teaching sector.

“The culture of industrial unrest that had dominated the teaching service has now been conclusively addressed, thanks to a partnership between teachers and the TSC leadership to address teachers’ issues in a structure and regulated manner,” Macharia said.

In its engagement with the unions, Macharia said TSC operates firmly within the legal provisions that guide such a relationship and that any action it initiates is done after careful thought, review and in strict conformity with the law.

At the same time, she said that under the law, sustaining a recognition agreement between an employer and the union requires certain minimums, which the latter must meet. 

However, in the event a union fails to meet the statutory threshold, Macharia said the employer will continue to remit all dues payable to such a union.

“The Commission has continued to work with registered unions even without a recognition agreement,” she maintained.

She said the process leading to revocation of a recognition agreement is elaborate and intricate, noting that it starts with issuance of notice of intention and culminates with the decision reached by the National Labour Board.

Seeking audience 

 “Parties involved still have an opportunity for conciliation and ultimately, judicial adjudication. This process is provided for by the law. The narrative being advanced that the Commission intends to kill any union is not only false but misleading,” added Macharia.

She made the remarks in the wake of a reported strained working relationship between the union and TSC.

But speaking separately, Knut chairman Wycliffe Omucheyi accused TSC of not being genuine with its statement saying that Knut has been seeking audience with TSC for a long time to no avail. 

“How does issuing a statement address the situation we are faced with? We want to sit down with TSC and sort out issues bedeviling our members,” he said on phone. 

He regretted that TSC has been oppressing Knut to a point of denying its monthly dues, with no particular reason. After moving to court over the subject, Omucheyi said their dues were given back to them but interfered with Knut’s membership register by removing at least 70,000 names.

More on National