The Education International (EI) has called on the Government of Kenya to stop the Teachers Service Commission onslaught on the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and restore a good environment for quality education
The EI observed that the survival of the KNUT is threatened by a systematic assault by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) which has discriminated against union members, denied coverage of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to members, and deprived the union of member fees.
The Global Union Federation says that this attack has crippled the capacity of the KNUT to provide services to members and caused considerable hardship for union representatives.
It observed that KNUT fought to establish the TSC, including calling for its creation in a national strike in 1966 as a national counterpart for negotiations and cooperation on education and teacher professional issues.
After action by Parliament, the TSC became operational in July of 1967. “There were periodic tensions in the past, but the TSC’s destructive campaign against the union escalated in 2019. It included establishing two parallel payrolls in the Public Teaching Service. Under this double payroll system, non-KNUT members were paid enhanced salaries and allowances.”
The Education International claims that KNUT members have also suffered discrimination on promotions and upgrades through changes made by TSC without legislative approval. Such discrimination it says goes against the national law, court orders, or Kenya’s international treaty obligations under ILO labour standards.
In May 2019, while KNUT was negotiating with the TSC concerning the implementation of the five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2017, the TSC unilaterally suspended the CBA and illegally introduced a digital validation of union members which resulted in a membership loss for KNUT.
KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion has been accusing TSC of inducing teachers to quit KNUT in order to benefit from the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement. In September 2019, over 86,000 primary and post-primary teachers were unlawfully stripped of their KNUT membership. Among those were elected KNUT officials.
After the massive TSC offensive to decimate KNUT union membership, TSC sought to revoke a recognition agreement signed in 1968. That action was however suspended by a judge, but legal proceedings will continue.
“In the summer of 2020, the Education Committee of Parliament held hearings and, in August, adopted resolutions that were supported by all the education unions. The Committee’s proposal was aimed at reversing several of the measures taken by the TSC and resolving remaining issues through negotiations.” EI states.
In the months that followed after parliamentary act, KNUT held productive discussions with the Education Committee of Parliament as well as with the Ministry of Labour.
“However, the TSC campaign has continued. It has ignored the action of Parliament as well as national laws and regulations.”
Education International Seriously Concerns
The Education International says it is concerned about TSC’s blatant disregard of international labour standards, national laws, courts, and Parliamentary decisions.
It is also concerned about the TSC incessant and targeted onslaught on KNUT leadership and membership, as well as interference in the internal affairs of the union.
The EI Executive Board now calls on the Government of Kenya to intervene and ensure that the TSC reverses its anti-union actions against KNUT and engages in serious dialogue and in good faith to restore healthy industrial relations and a good environment for quality education.
It also demands that the TSC restore KNUT’s membership to that of June 2019, desist from discriminating against KNUT members concerning their remuneration, promotion, and working conditions, revert to implementing the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement, and implement all the court orders and Parliamentary decisions.
The world’s largest, most representative global, sectoral organisation of unions now reaffirms that it will give unequivocal support for KNUT in their fight for the full respect of trade union rights and the interests of their members.
“Declares that the struggle of the KNUT to preserve and defend their trade union is our fight and that of the global trade union movement. EI commits to mobilise solidarity to defend the rights and progress of teachers in Kenya.” Read part of its statement.
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