Knut and TSC CBA 2021 – 2023 full negotiations

Knut and TSC CBA 2021 - 2023 full negotiations

INTRODUCTION

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between Kenya  National Union  of Teachers  (KNUT) and Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is  due  to  lapse  on June  30th,  2021.

It was against this backdrop that KNUT on  October   29th,  2019  forwarded comprehensive CBA proposals to TSC,  also  with a request  for a meeting.

DUE  PROCESS

Collective Bargaining is a key  means through  which employers  and their organizations  and   trade   unions can  establish fair wages and working conditions. It also provides the basis  for sound labour relations.

Collective Bargaining  is a fundamental right. It   is rooted in the International Labour  Organization (ILO) constitution and reaffirmed as  such  in  the  1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights   at Work.

Article 41(5) of  the Constitution of Kenya states that: “Every  trade  union, employers’ organization and employer has the right to engage in Collective Bargaining Agreement; while Section 13.5 of TSC  Act (2012)  states that the Commission will constitute  a Consultative Committee on  the  Terms  and  Conditions of  Service  to negotiate a CBA.

The law further obligates TSC  to appoint  a 10-member committee that includes five members each from unions and government for negotiation of a CBA. The committee is led by an independent chairperson and a secretary.

According to established norms…the  very norms  that were  applied during  the negotiation and  processing  of the  current  CBA  (2017/2021).

The  first  meeting of  the committee is to set the rules for engagement that comply with the laws  of the country, and  ILO  statutes;  followed by   presentation  of   proposals  by unions  an exercise closely followed by analysis and justifications.

There   is   a   counter-proposal  from   the   employer – thereafter, the details of the justifications and the counter- offer  are  transmitted to the  Salaries and  Remuneration Commission (SRC) for advice  before  the Union  and  TSC sign  the Agreement.

The  Commission  suspended  the  2017-2021  CBA   in July  2019, and  since   then, TSC has  been  running  two parallel  payrolls  in the Public  Teaching Service  one  for KNUT  members and the other  for non-KNUT members which   is  contrary   to  the  law   and   established  norms.

This  indeed has  complicated labour  relations   as  in  the process of  effecting  two  payrolls  KNUT  members have been  discriminated against  denied salary  increments, and  even  promotions in deserving cases.

We have  been patient for too long, we cannot  stomach this attitude any longer.

VIOLATION OF THE  LAW

For unexplained reason(s), TSC  has sidestepped KNUT in an attempt to actualize the drafting of 2021/2023 CBA this  is  in  total  violation of  ILO  Convention-Rule 143; Article 41(5) of the Kenya Constitution; Section  13.5 of the TSC Act; Section  191 of the Code  of Regulations for Teachers;  ILO Convention No. 154 and The Labour Relations Act (2007) which  calls  for Collective Bargaining to realize  a Collective Agreement.

It is important  to note that Section  191  of the Code  of Regulations for Teachers  states: “Every teacher has a right to fair labour  practices  as enshrined in the Constitution.”

Therefore, the sudden action taken by TSC to circumvent the due process of negotiating and drafting a new CBA by sneaking proposals to SRC  is ultra vires, and a deliberate attempt  by the Commission to provoke  teachers.

EFFECTS OF COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The annual inflation  rate in Kenya  fell to 4.2% in June from  4.3%  in  the  previous  month.

It  was   the  softest inflation rate since September  of   last year (2019). However, the inflation  continues to rise now  standing at over 6%,  a clear indication that all is not well particularly to those  in low income brackets.

Central   Bank   of  Kenya   in   March   assured  that   the Covid-19 pandemic is unlikely to affect the country’s inflation,  however with  the  looks  of things,  the  scourge is already  causing damage to the pockets  of low income earners, including teachers in the Public Service.

The effects of the pandemic combined with  other  economic factors,  is  likely to worsen the sad story  of  inflation in Kenya  the reason why  the  pay  hike  for teachers must be negotiated.

IN CONCLUSION

(i)      It is  our  PRAYER that  TSC  strictly  follows  the  due process  in  initiating   Collective Bargaining,  and thereafter respects and honour the Collective Agreement.

(ii)     Following   the   harrowing   experience   KNUT    has gone   through   during   the  implementation  period of the  current  Collective Bargaining Agreement 2017/2021 (CBA) whose life expires  on  June  30th, 2021; the  Union   appeals to  TSC  to   respect and honour Labour   laws  and  regulations that  govern CBAs.

(iii)    KNUT  wishes to  remind   the  Commission that  the primary   objective   of  the   CBA   is   to  ensure   that both   Parties  (KNUT/TSC) work   harmoniously  in negotiating  the   terms   and   conditions  of  service for teachers  for the purpose of improving teaching standards and performance in the Teaching Service.

(iv)    In the  same vein, the  Union would  wish to jog TSC’s memory that CBAs  are  intended to facilitate structured and constructive dialogue   between Parties for the purpose of maintaining  industrial peace in the Teaching Service.

(v)     KNUT  therefore  asks  TSC  to follow  the due  process in jump starting the 2021/2023 Collective Bargaining  without further ado.

The process should be consultative with full representation of the Union.

(vi)    Besides adhering to the Constitution more especially (Article 2 (5), (6) and Article 41  (2), (4), (5); the enabling Acts and regulations while initiating Collective Bargaining  process, the Commission is obligated to observe the  Code of  Regulations for Teachers as it is the guiding light in the entire matrix.

(vii)   Union  officials while discharging  their mandate, should enjoy    effective protection against any act prejudicial to them, including dismissal from employment, or teacher register based on their status  or activities  as workers’ representatives. (ILO Convention – Rule  143).

(viii)  The Commission should avoid engaging in activities or programmes  contrary to the Law, regulations and other established norms that could  jeopardize Collective Bargaining that is intended to result into Collective Agreement.

(ix)    More  importantly,  the Commission should at all times attempt  to  resolve  all  teacher  grievances in an amicable manner with the view to achieving sustainable industrial  peace  in the Public Teaching Service.

(x)     A comprehensive job evaluation for classroom teachers should be   adequately  undertaken to ensure proper compensation for this carder of teachers in the next CBA.

Hon. Wilson Sossion

Secretary  General

Kenya  National Union  of Teachers  (KNUT)

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