The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has moved to court seeking to have top officials at the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) punished for defying court orders.
In its appeal in the Employment and Labour Relations Court, Knut wants TSC Chief Executive Officer Dr Nancy Macharia and the commission chairperson jailed for 6 months.
The Commission’s chairperson Lydia Nzomo retired in November 2020 after her term in office lapsed. The current acting chairperson is Mbarak Twahir. The new onslaught is likely to start new legal conflicts between the two bodies
TSC officials ignored orders preventing them from implementing a circular on transfers, promotions, appraisals, training and union membership, according to KNUT.
It also asserts that TSC defied court directives that required it to suspend career progression guidelines (CPGs) announced in 2018, and that it has disregarded notices that the orders have not been set aside.
“Despite being aware of a pending application for contempt, the first contemnor has continued to place advertisements and issued circulars for implementation, including applications from suitably qualified candidates through career progression guidelines to fill the vacancies created,” claims Knut’s lawyer Hillary Sigei.
All promotions of teachers initiated under the contested CPGs could be affected if KNUT gets the orders. It also implies that roughly 14,000 lately advertised promotions would be suspended as TSC said they were based on CPGs.
Knut members were disadvantaged by the implementation of the CPGs, which involved gains to the Sh54 billion CBA, and if KNUT wins, they will be considered.
The lawsuit is likely to give salvation to Knut whose membership has decreased and revenue stream converted into a trickle after TSC halted the check-off scheme for the remission of union dues.
This newest legal onslaught originates from a decision by Labour Court Judge Byrum Ongaya who nullified the promotions circular, which had narrowed career progression to those with teacher training certificates, Knut Secretary-General William Sossion says.
Schemes of service
“The court returns that the petitioner will undertake teacher promotion in accordance with the relevant provisions and schemes of service with respect to all unionisable teachers,” the judge directed
TSC was directed to comply with the scheme of service on promotions and adjust it with the CBA signed with unions. KNUT SG claims that the commission has engaged in illegality by breaching numerous sections of CBAs, the Code of Regulations for teachers, and requirements of international labour laws.
In May 2018, the teachers’ employer had issued a policy introducing CPG and abolishing three schemes of service.
TSC claimed in papers filed in Parliament that when the CBA was signed, it launched a new grading system for teachers identified as CPGs, which succeeded the scheme of service.
TSC CEO Macharia stated that Knut opposed the implementation of the CPGs in court and that Knut members could not profit from the 3rd and 4th phases of salary increment and promotions.
“To comply with the resultant court orders, the commission undertook teacher promotion in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Code of Regulation for Teachers, the schemes of service for all Knut members, and CPGs for non-members of Knut,” reads part of the TSC report tabled in Parliament.
But KNUT contends that the court gave a caveat for TSC to negotiate with the unions to analyse the current schemes of service to align it to the current CBA.
Instead, KNUT accuses TSC of going ahead to announce vacancies based on the same circular. The application window was supposed to end by January 13 this year.
“Concerted efforts have been made by the applicants to have the contemnors comply with the notice of the present action in vain through the pending contempt application, various letters and efforts to convene meetings in order to ensure compliance,” said Mr Sigei.