KNUT threatens strike after TSC demotes teachers, cuts salaries


KNUT threatens strike after TSC demotes teachers, cuts salaries
File image of Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion. PHOTO| COURTESY

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has threatened to call for a nationwide strike following the move by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to demote its members and deduct their salaries in a bid to recover benefits accorded to them for the last two years.

Addressing the press in Nairobi on Monday, KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion termed the move by TSC as dishonest and discriminatory, warning that no teacher will resume duty once schools re-open for Third Term.

“If things don’t change, we shall call you (press) daily… TSC you have an opportunity to correct this mess. Which teacher will resume duty in September when his/her salary has been cut, tell me, that’s warning enough,” said Sossion.

“If this engagement will not work. Prof. Magoha (Education CS) your programs will be affected. It’s very easy to go on strike.”

On Friday, TSC stopped the pay rise of 103,624 teachers who are KNUT members, citing a July 26, 2019 court ruling by Justice Byram Ongaya.

In the ruling, which was a win for KNUT, Justice Ongaya set aside career progression guidelines introduced by TSC to guide promotions and remuneration of teachers.

The court also stopped TSC from implementing teachers promotions based on performance as contained in the career progression guidelines.

KNUT wanted promotions be based on merit, seniority, vacancies, academic and professional qualifications.

In 2016, TSC and KNUT signed a collective bargaining agreement (2017-2021 CBA) that was to see teachers salaries and allowances enhanced in phases beginning July 1, 2017.

TSC, however, last Friday announced it would not factor in Phase Three of the 2017- 2021 CBA on the salaries of 103,624 KNUT affiliated teachers including headteachers, deputy headteachers and senior teachers.

The teachers’ employer maintained that the payroll for KNUT members was not factored in Phase Three of the 2017- 2021 CBA since the court ordered that their terms be based on the schemes of service and not career progression guidelines, introduced by TSC.

TSC further indicated that it would move to recover billions of shillings paid to KNUT members for the last two years and also lower their job grades to the original cadres before July 1, 2017 when implementation of the agreement began.

“Inevitably, this will also lead to reversal of grades and full recovery of the previous enhanced salaries and allowances since July 1, 2017,” TSC boss Nancy Macharia said.

According to KNUT, however, the CBA is still binding despite the court order that quashed implementation of performance appraisal tools.

“If the career progression guidelines were brought into effect illegally without consultation on May 2, 2018, how does it affect a CBA that was negotiated in 2016 under the environment of the code of regulations and schemes of service,” said Sossion.

“The excuse that it is not possible to move teachers is a mischievous way of trying to stick on the career progression guidelines. It is designed to deny teachers promotions…That’s why they are sticking to it and using backroom tactics bordering on blackmail.

Phase Two of the 2017- 2021 CBA was paid on July 1, 2018 to all teachers, while the payment of Phase Three ought to have been implemented last month.

“We wonder how on earth TSC can wake up and lie to Kenyans that the court judgement annulled the CBA. That’s a lie. A plain lie,” said Sossion.

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Story By Benjamin Muriuki
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