Kuppet Revive Calls For Teachers’ salary Review As KNUT Seeks To Raise Official’s Retirement Age
The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has urged the government to reopen salary review negotiations that were halted last year.
Kuppet Secretary-General Akelo Misori stated that the economy was improving, necessitating the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to reopen salary negotiations.
Misori was speaking on the state of the teaching profession and the education sector in general following the Annual Delegates Conference (ADC).
Having considered all factors affecting teachers’ terms and conditions of service, the ADC demands the immediate resumption of talks for the salary review that was put on hold due to poor economic performance caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The union has been lenient and reasonable, according to Kuppet Secretary-General, but the time to push for new terms could not wait another year.
“Enough is enough, we have been lenient and reasonable enough. However, we expect TSC to respect our views and initiate the talks,” Misori added.
Misori, who was accompanied by Kuppet Chairman Omboka Milemba and his vice Julius Korir, also stated that the salary freeze was due to poor economic performance as a result of the virus.
The Kuppet boss noted that the government had recently reviewed salaries and allowances for several cadres in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the Public Service Commission (PSC), and county governments and wondered why they had been left out.
“We want to make it very clear; teachers are not beggars, they are professionals. They know when to talk and what to say. We know this is the right time to engage in such a matter without the interference of school calendars,” he added.
During the ADC, the teachers also directed the National Executive Board to communicate union demands to TSC and the Ministry of Education.
KNUT members seek constitution changes
The top decision-making organ of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has approved proposed changes to its constitution, ushering in a new era in the organization’s leadership.
As part of the changes approved by the National Advisory Council at a meeting in Nairobi yesterday, elected officials will retire at the age of 65, and officials wishing to run for elective political positions will be barred from rejoining the union, as Knut seeks to distance itself from partisan politics.
If approved by the National Delegates’ Conference (NDC), the move will be a major setback for some members who have expressed interest in various political positions in the general election next year.
Previously, Knut officials took time off to run for elective national positions, with those who lost being welcomed back into the union.
The union’s 440 officials from its 110 branches gathered yesterday for a meeting.
The Advisory Council is made up of members of the National Executive Council (NEC), the chairman, executive secretary, treasurer, woman representatives, and persons with disabilities from each of the branches, as needed.
Though the NDC has the final say on any constitutional changes, Secretary-General Collins Oyuu said the constitution allows the Advisory Council to ratify changes in the absence of the top organ.
The proposal to limit the SG’s powers was also approved, as the official will no longer serve as the Chief Executive Officer.
The proposal to raise the retirement age of elected officials to 65 years old, however, is the point of departure and agreement among members.
“Every national official and full time elected officials of the union shall vacate office at the expiry of five years but shall be eligible for re-election up to 65 years,” said Oyuu.
Cause of litigation
He claims that strict adherence to the age limit is unfair to those holding elective positions and is a major source of litigation during elections.
“Members and officials have been fighting among themselves because of the grey areas in the Knut constitution about the age of retirement,” Oyuu explained.
While the constitution specifies a retirement age of 60, it also specifies a five-year term for elected officials.
“And so whatever comes first is what takes precedence,” said Oyuu.
The Advisory Council recommended that the voting age be raised to 65 in order to avoid litigation and chaos during elections.
As a result, elected officials whose terms overlap the set age limit will complete their terms.
Oyuu also stated that the union constitution, which was revised in December 2015, gave the office of the SG additional powers similar to those of the CEO.
He claimed that the title of CEO has been used to intimidate union members, in addition to making rash decisions without consulting them.
Article Six of the current constitution spells out the designations and duties of elected officials, and it states that the secretary-general shall also be the CEO of the union.
According to Oyuu, the proposed changes aim to strengthen union structures by ensuring that organs such as the NEC have the authority to make major decisions.
According to Knut’s constitution, the NEC is empowered to act as the supreme authority and to conduct the union’s business between the Annual Delegates Conference by ensuring that the ADC’s decisions and policies are fully implemented.
The union also agreed to close loopholes that allowed ex-SG Wilson Sossion to continue serving after his nomination to Parliament.
Knut has now proposed a new law that would prohibit any member of the executive or holder of a national office from holding political office.
“We want to include that any member or official of the union elected, nominated or appointed to a political party position, or to Parliament, should give way for the rest to lead,” reads the proposed law.
According to the Advisory Council, membership is made up of teachers of various political persuasions whose personal interests must be protected without causing unnecessary conflicts between them and the leadership.
The delegates pointed out that, like other constitutions that are amended to reflect changing times, some sections of the current Knut constitution are out of date and should be reviewed. Officials also stated that some words and terms in the current constitution are out of date and need to be aligned.
“For instance, on branches, the constitution makes reference to districts, which are no longer existent. The union shall consist of branches organised as far as possible, on a districts basis whose membership shall be approved by the NEC on application,” it reads.
It goes on to say that each branch must have at least 1,000 members.
The revised recognition agreement signed in August reduced the number of Knut branches from 110 to 47.
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However, each branch is expected to have three top officers – chairman, executive secretary, and treasurer – each with an assistant, according to the constitution. These officials, along with a female representative, comprise the branch steering committee.