TSC meets teachers unions amid rumours of agency fee

TSC meets teachers unions amid rumours of agency fee

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is meeting teachers union officials today July 13th 2021 to iron out issues that flopped last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.

TSC invited teachers unions for further negotiations that could lead to signing of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“The Commission has the pleasure to invite the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (KUSNET) to a meeting to be held from Tuesday 13th July 2021 at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi. The meeting will commence at 11.00 am,” read an invitation by Nancy Macharia to Kusnet Secretary General.

Already the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) officials have hinted at signing the CBA without monetary gains.

This is after behind the scene talks that assured Knut members of a payrise in August 2021.

TSC will backdate the payment for the teachers to enjoy the two increments which they missed.

This means that Knut members will have a total pay rise of between Sh8,000 and Sh15,000, back dated to cover the last two years (2019 and 2020) they missed out as their counterparts in other unions enjoyed salary increase.

Full implementation of 2017-2021 CBA saw teachers who were previously on job group B5 earning a basic salary of Sh21,345, movedto C1 with a salary increment of about Sh8,000.

Allowances for these teachers were also increased tremendously. They enjoyed a new house allowance of Sh4,200, commuter of Sh4,000 and hardship allowance of Sh8,200.

Head teachers and their deputies who were Knut members also lost greatly under the last phase of the CBA. 

For example, a head teacher who was earning Sh45,000 in June 2019 now earns Sh62,272 as their Knut counterparts salaries remained unchanged. 

Knut, which had previously objected to a CBA without monetary gains as proposed by TSC, is now climbing down and suggesting a possibility of having an agreement with a condition that the suspension only lasts two years.

“Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has suspended the review of salaries and teachers are not exceptional, but must agree with the TSC that teachers’ salaries will be reviewed immediately after the lapse of the suspension period depending on the country’s economic performance,” said Knut Secretary General Mr Collins Oyuu.

In the June meeting with teachers’ unions, TSC offered promotion of teachers in arid and semi-arid land (ASALs) and hardship areas, enhanced package on maternity leave to 120 days and paternity leave of 21 days with full salaries, as well as transfers of couples to teach in schools near each other.

“We are looking at a CBA that does not break families. Let us not only concentrate on the financial gains because the CBA has so many aspects,” said Oyuu.

However teachers are worried after a social media rumour that TSC will subject teachers to a four per cent agency fee deductions after the CBA talks are finalized.

Agency fees are paid to a trade union that has registered recognition agreement with the employer in the industrial court and has requested the minister for labour for the employer to bound by the CBA to deduct agency fees from the wages and salaries of unionisable employees who are not members of the trade union.

TSC failed to agree with the two teachers unions, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), during the first round of CBA negotiations last month.

TSC meets teachers unions amid rumours of agency fee
Invitation for CBA talks by TSC CEO Nancy Macharia

Kuppet had issued a seven days ultimatum for TSC to table a CBA offer that includes monetary value for its members or they paralyse learning when schools reopen for first term in July.

However the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Nairobi branch executive secretary Moses Mbora has urged the national office to accept the CBA offer provided by the employer as it is.

Last week TSC urged unions to engage the Commission for further negotiations that will lead to signing of a new agreement.

TSC CEO Dr. Nancy Macharia said that the Commission is confident that the unions will go back to the negotiation table to finalise the CBA process.

“Our doors of dialogue will forever remain wide open for further negotiations. We are confident that the unions will come back to the negotiation table to finalise this critical process for the interest of the Kenyan child and the teachers of this country,” said Macharia on Friday 2 July.

During the last meeting TSC had tabled a CBA which excluded pay changes for teachers thus leading to a standoff.

The new CBA seeks to recognise teachers’ leadership and technical roles in realisation of the CBC within and outside the classroom, which had been ignored in the evaluation tool previously used by SRC in crafting teachers’ job descriptions.

Implementation of the CBA would be a boost for classroom teachers as it recognises the role they play in implementation of the CBC.

However according to TSC their decision to disallow any salary increment for teachers is informed by advisory opinion from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission.

“SRC gave an advisory that there would be no review of the basic salary structures, allowances and benefits paid public sector in the financial year 2021 /2022 — 2022/2023,” TSC CEO Nancy Macharia said after meeting teachers union officials at Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi .

TSC said there will be no salary increment for teachers due to Covid-19 economic challenges the country has suffered but will negotiate on other components of the CBA while maintaining the current salary rates as advised by SRC.

The two teachers unions, Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), rejected this move that ended further negotiations.

They said any negotiations on new CBA must include monetary gains for its members.

Kuppet and Kuppet submitted their salaries and allowances benefits proposals for their members.

Knut had also proposed a salary increment of between 120 and 200.

The Knut proposal means the monthly basic salary for the lowest paid teacher (Grade B5) would be raised from Sh21,756 to a maximum of Sh87,024 while salary of the highest paid teacher (Grade D5) would be increased from Sh131,380 to Sh394,140.

Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori said that the union is pushing for a pay rise that would cushion teachers against inflation and the burdens of increased workload under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC).

“Kuppet is reluctant to entertain a CBA with no monetary benefits,” Akelo Misori said in a statement.

He confirmed dissatisfaction with the proposed TSC counter offer to the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“Given the wide disparities in remuneration across the various cadres in the expiring 2016-2021 CBA, coupled with the sharp inflation in the country, this is the time to review teachers’ salaries,” the statement reads.

Kuppet in a statement termed the content of the proposals by TSC as ‘negligible improvement’ in the working condition of teachers.

“After the current CBA expires, the Kuppet National Governing Council will meet within seven days, to deliberate on incipient vacuum and give directions to our members,” the statement said.

Some of the TSC proposals in the new CBA are;

  1. Expansion of maternity leave from a period of 90 days to 120.
  2. Expansion of paternity leave from a period of 14 days to 21.
  3. Fast-tracking of promotions in arid and semi-arid areas.
  4. Pre-adoptive leave for parents exploring adoption to bond with their children

Newly elected Knut Secretary General Collins Oyuu had termed the proposal laughable after the first meeting of CBA talks.

Treasury allocated over Sh588 billion to the Ministry of Education in the 2021/2022 financial year budget, no monies were allocated to finance the 2021-2026 CBA.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) froze salary reviews for teachers, civil servants and state officers owing to the economic slowdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

SRC boss Lyn Mengich said there will be no salary increments for the public servants for the next two years to allow the government stabilize the economy.

“Cognisant of the government’s financial constraints, the current wage bill ratios, the need to release resources for investment in the strategic priorities of the government to jumpstart the Covid-19-ravaged economy, there will be no review of the basic salary structures, allowances and benefits paid in the public sector in the financial year 2021/2022-2022/23,” said the SRC boss.

The commission further announced that no additional funding will be provided for implementation of the job evaluation results in the next two financial years.

“Public sector institutions may implement job evaluation results, by placing jobs in their rightful job evaluation grading, within the existing salary structures and approved budgets, subject to confirmation to SRC that the funding is provided for in the current budget,” said SRC.

The commission says it will review the situation after two fiscal years, and based on the status of the economy, it will guide on the way forward for the remaining period of the third remuneration and benefits review cycle.

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