The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) officials will meet the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials in Naivasha today to start talks on a deal that will unlock salary increment for teachers.
Knut together with Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) have been pushing for review of the non-monetary Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in July last year.
According to Knut secretary general Collins Oyuu they seek to discuss Education committee report and teachers’ professional development training, among other issues affecting members.
Knut wants state to pay for teachers TPD training. It also want TSC to allow primary school teachers to teach in junior secondary. In addition wants the Commission to allow promotion of teachers who upgraded their certificates.
However at the centre of the discussion will be to review the 2021- 2025 CBA that did not give teachers a pay increase.
Though the CBA failed to address salary changes union officials have expressed confidence that it will be reviewed to include salary component through a supplementary budget.
In the 2021 – 2025 CBA also populary known as maternity CBA, teachers did not enjoy monetary benefit but saw an increase in maternity and paternity leave days.
Maternity leave for female teachers increased from 90 to 120 while paternity leave increased from 14 to 21 days.
The CBA also allowed promotion of teachers in arid and semi-arid areas (ASAL) on affirmative action. However this left teachers without a pay increase for five years from 2021 to 2025.
In the 2022 – 2023 budget that was read, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani allocated an additional Sh14.8 billion to TSC.
The Commission however, refuted claims that it will use the money to award salary increment to teachers.
In a report that was presented in Parliament, TSC said the allocated additional money will be used to employ more teachers.
In the budget TSC was also allocated sh 2.5 billion for employing 5,000 teachers on permanent terms and another sh 1.2 billion for employing 6,000 others on internship.
TSC will meet the othe unions, Kuppet and Kusnet, after concluding talks with Knut.
In a January 17 letter to TSC, Kuppet demanded a pay rise of at least 30 per cent for its members.
In its proposal, Kuppet wants the basic monthly salary of the lowest paid teacher to be raised from Sh34,955 to Sh59,425 and that of the highest paid increased from Sh118,242 to Sh153,715.
It also wants an increase in the commuter allowance from Sh5,000 to Sh8,500 for the lower cadre teachers and Sh16,000 to Sh20,000 for the highest paid tutors.
Knut on the other hand is pushing for a pay rise of between 15 and 20 per cent. Oyuu is also pushing for review of commuter and house allowances to meet the rising inflation.
Since Oyuu took office, Knut has recruited 100,000 new members in one year, increasing membership to 115,000, up from the 15,000 he found at the time of his election on June 26 last year.
The number was down from the 187,000 Knut had a few years ago.
“When I came in as secretary general, Knut was facing many challenges ranging from low membership, financial starvation, to a bad blood that had been created and existed with the TSC,” he said.
Currently, Mr Oyuu said, all Knut’s 110 branches are fully functional, all employees are receiving their salaries without fail, staff medical cover has been restored and the union is progressively paying the arrears it had accumulated over two years before he took over.
Due to the financial crisis the union had, several branch offices had been closed, and office equipment such as chairs, desks and computers auctioned.
A union bus was auctioned in one branch. The head office was also subject to auction, with some furniture taken away over debt.
“Every month we are paying up to Sh14 million to repay the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), pensions and other arrears owed by the union.”
The new leadership had revealed that at the time of taking over, the union owed KRA over Sh301 million. It also owed millions to other creditors.
He said currently, all retirees from the union have received their pensions and other debts are being cleared. However, his leadership has not gone without criticism.
A section of teachers has accused Mr Oyuu and other officials of compromising the stand of the union to please the employer.
The Kenya National Teachers Pressure Group (KNTPG) says Knut is no longer interested in issues affecting teachers, accusing its officials of ganging up with the TSC to oppress teachers.
KNTPG spokesperson Martha Omollo says Knut and other unions are “in bed” with the employer.
“We need a union that represents the interests of teachers,” said Ms Omollo.
They accuse Mr Oyuu of signing a non-monetary CBA, and failing to fight punitive transfers that saw teachers in the group transferred to far-flung counties. But Mr Oyuu dismissed the group as unregistered, illegal and lacking the mandate to talk about teachers.
“I will not entertain those who resigned and others who lost elections,” he said, adding that the non-monetary part is among the challenges he has faced as Knut expected the TSC to increase salaries.
“I have the interest of teachers at heart and seeing teachers receive a salary increase through a well negotiated CBA is among my priorities.”
Mr Oyuu said that although the journey of restoring Knut has not been smooth, creating harmonious industrial relations in the education sector, particularly with the TSC and the Ministry of Education, has been top on his priority list.
“Trade unionism is about creating harmony with all the stakeholders. We cannot operate without relating well with the employer and this is what I have been doing so that as I fight for teachers’ rights, the employer is able to listen and invite us to a negotiating table.”
Before he was elected, Knut had become a shell of its former self following the withdrawal of over 172,000 members. The union was also running several court cases challenging the TSC policies affecting teachers. The wrangles resulted in diminished funding blamed on non-remittance of union dues by the TSC.
When he took over, Mr Oyuu withdrew all the cases Knut had against the TSC, signed a demarcation agreement with the employer, allowing the union to only represent teachers in primary schools, and overturned decisions that had caused poor relations with the employer.
The demarcation policy was among the issues opposed by his predecessor, ODM-nominated MP Wilson Sossion.