Court orders Kuppet to refund teachers Sh90 million illegal deductions.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) was dealt a major blow when a court ordered it to refund Sh90 million in member dues and agency fees deducted from more than 3,500 tutors in technical institutions currently employed by the Public Service Commission (PSC) over a three-year period.
In her decision, Justice Maureen Onyango of the Employment and Labour Relations Court stated that no employer can deduct union dues unless the forms signed by employees are received from the trade union and its validity is established.
“That the respondents each refund any monies deducted from the claimant’s and the persons on whose behalf he filed this suit and remitted to the first respondent on account of union dues or agency fees after the date they ceased to be employees of the third respondent,” said Justice Onyango in Nairobi on Thursday.
The decision followed a case filed on his and other trainers’ behalf by Kepher Oguwi Langi, a technical and vocational education training (TVET) institution tutor.
He had named Kuppet as the first respondent, Vocational and Technical Training PS as the second, the Teachers Service Commission as the third, and the Attorney-General as the fourth.
According to Mr Langi, despite the government transferring TVET tutors from TSC to PSC employment, the union has illegally continued to receive membership dues from the employer.
Mr Langi stated that after the transfer, he and the other 3,500 tutors ceased to be members. Around 500 others belonged to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).
Knut, on the other hand, has not been deducting fees from TVET tutors. As union dues, the Kuppet deducts 1.8 per cent of members’ basic salary.
Mr Langi stated that the union was deducting between Sh5 million and Sh6 million from the tutors on a monthly basis.
“Cumulatively, the illegal deductions amount to Sh90 million,” he said.
According to Mr Langi, the respondents illegally signed consent with Kuppet and continued to pay union dues and agency fees.
He testified in court that the union had no recognition agreement with the PSC, the Vocational and Technical Training PS. As a result, he claimed, the union could not claim to represent the tutors.
He stated that the agreement between the TSC and Kuppet to deduct union dues from TVET tutors in the absence of duly filled and signed forms is still illegal and unenforceable.
In response, the Kuppet argued that Mr Langi was not a party to the consent and did not meet the legal threshold for the consent to be varied or set aside.
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Kuppet asked the court to set aside the case.
In its defense, the TSC stated that Mr Langi raised no justifiable complaint against the commission.
According to Justice Onyango, when the trainers were transferred from TSC to PSC, they lost their union membership. She ordered that the deductions be halted immediately, citing them as illegal.