Money or union: Tough options for Kenya National Union of Teachers

Friday, August 9th, 2019 00:00 |
Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion. Photo/GERALD ITHANA

The onslaught against the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) appeared to heighten yesterday with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) issuing new guidelines that seemed friendly to non-unionisable tutors.

As from this month, TSC said it would operate parallel payrolls, one comprising Knut members under the schemes of service with the other for non-unionisable teachers under career progression guidelines (CPG).

The teachers’ employer said it opted to adopt the two payrolls system following a court judgment delivered on July 12.

TSC says it has been forced to separate the payroll for Knut from the rest of teachers since the judgment directed it to undertake teachers’ promotions in accordance with relevant provisions of Code of Regulations of Teachers (CORT) and Schemes of Service with respect to all unionisable teachers eligible to join Knut.

“The payroll under Schemes of Service has posed numerous challenges, which the Commission hoped to side-step through stay orders. Significantly, it translates to overpayment of salaries which the Commission is bound by law to determine and recover as government liability against the respective teachers,” TSC explained yesterday, in a statement.

The State agency says it will be meeting to validate appraisal tools ordered by the Employment and Labour Court, even as it declared readiness to meet unions under normal industrial relations.

But Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion accused TSC of misleading the public by arguing that the Employment and Labour Relations Court ruling on July 12 necessitated preparation of two parallel payrolls in order to comply with the court ruling without disadvantaging teachers who are not Knut members.

Sossion said tampering with teachers’ pay in the name of recovering money paid to Knut members in the first and second phases of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) amounts to a scam as it is illegal and unconstitutional.

Immediate consequence

“It is with shock and total disbelief that TSC has arbitrarily introduced two payrolls contrary to international norms in the human resource management. There is no way the Commission would substitute the schemes of service for CPG since the schemes are anchored in the Code of Regulations for teachers,” Sossion said.

Earlier in the week, Knut termed July payroll as most discriminatory ever executed and demanded immediate rectification.

Although they also insisted they are more than ready to meet with TSC to iron out issues, Knut demanded correction of anomalies in teachers’ salaries before they can take a drastic move.

But TSC insists explained that the immediate consequence of the court judgment with regard to teacher promotion is that some major promotional benefits that had been achieved through the CPG have been lost. 

Specifically, under the CPG, teachers formerly designated as P1 and were promoted to B5 with effect from July 1, 2017 will not be promoted under common cadre to C1 on July 1, 2020. 

This is because promotion of teachers who are members of Knut will strictly be as per the provisions of the Schemes of Service and teachers will be selected to undertake Teachers Proficiency Courses (TPC) upon payment of requisite fee so as to be considered for promotion from P1 to Approved Teachers (ATS) IV as was the case prior to July, 2017. 

TSC also stated that a CPG does not have to be approved by Parliament as Knut has indicated, saying it is a tool of implementing Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“CBA is a detailed agreement on how the Commission will promote teachers in its payroll within a period of four years. The government ring-fenced Sh54 billion for this purpose. CPG are clear modalities designed to enable the Commission implement the CBA,” TSC argued.

In explaining benefits of CPG in relation to promotion of teachers, TSC said the guidelines had taken into account the new system and addressed the issues of stagnation.

Breach of provisions

The Commission cited some of the gains to include promotion to the next grade after entry is automatic for Certificate, Diploma and Degree holders thus creating parity of treatment for all the groups. 

Similarly, TSC said teacher promotion can be accelerated without the requisite three years as was the case in the Schemes of Service, for instance in the 2020/21 financial year, 96,000 teachers currently in B5 will automatically move to C1. 

This implies that these teachers are moving two job groups G–J, which is not tenable under the Schemes of Service. 

With regards to issuing a notice to remove Sossion from the register of teachers with effect from July 29, TSC said he breached the provisions of the TSC Act, 2012 as read together with CORT by causing paralysis of the Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) training held in April in 11 counties.

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