In the last one week, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has been threatening to call a teachers’ strike over transfers of heads of institutions and implementation of an appraisal system for teachers in public schools.
He has even attempted to link the few incidents of school unrest during the second term to the delocalisation of principals in secondary schools.
Yet, those familiar with the history of school strikes in Kenya and the documented research know that school strikes date back to the early 1970s, and it’s the reason the government has initiated numerous reforms in the management of learning institutions.
Back to delocalisation and the teacher appraisal programme.
For obvious reasons, Mr Sossion has all along avoided informing teachers that the provisions on delocalisation and teacher appraisal are part of the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the two teachers unions — Knut and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) — which have a recognition agreement with TSC.
Specifically, the provisions on delocalisation and teacher appraisal are contained in clause 4 of the CBA and also in the Code of Regulations for Teachers (2015).
The contractual and binding nature of the entire CBA was affirmed when it was signed by unions’ representatives, who included Mr Sossion, and later registered at the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) in November 2017.
The importance and centrality of a CBA in governing the relationship between an employer and employees cannot be gainsaid.
A CBA provides the framework for engagement on financial and non-financial matters and, therefore, formalises the contractual obligations of the parties involved.
Primarily, a CBA exists to ensure industrial harmony by clarifying the different obligations of the parties involved within a given timeframe.
Until 2016 when the TSC signed the first ever CBAs with Knut and Kuppet, the teaching service was plagued by numerous strikes, which disrupted teaching and learning almost on annual basis.
After the signing of CBAs, industrial peace was restored and school programmes, including national examinations, ran according to schedule.
It is thus disturbing that lately Mr Sossion has persistently tried to invent a dispute where none exists.
As a matter of fact, there is no ambiguity whatsoever in the CBAs regarding provisions on delocalisation and appraisal.