Teachers Service Commission (TSC) will today, 22nd August, table its salary offer for teachers as teachers’ unions also plan to present their set of proposals in the review of their 2021-2025 collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Yesterday the Commission started to effect teachers August salaries by paying third party deductions which include union dues, loans, insurance premiums and Sacco contributions.
However TSC is looking forward to seal a deal with unions this week so that it can pay full August salaries with increment.
Whether TSC will backdate the CBA 2021 – 2025 to 1st July 2021 when it started is still a mystery.
The salary talks should they drag have a potential to drag the August salaries for teachers.
TSC has invited both the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) to discuss the CBA barely a week after the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) announced a 7 per cent to 10 per cent pay rise for civil servants.
However, union officials have rejected the percentage increase and are demanding a higher pay rise due to high taxation.
“The purpose of this letter is to invite you to a meeting with the TSC scheduled for August 22, 2023 at 9am to review the 2021-2025 CBA between the TSC and Kuppet. The meeting will be held at the Kenya School of Government,” TSC wrote.
Both Knut and Kuppet want a review of both basic salary and allowances.
The commission and the unions want to review the non-monetary CBA signed in 2021 due to the harsh economic times.
Kuppet has proposed to review a number of issues, including a 70 per cent salary increase, which is ten times higher than the maximum proposed by SRC.
Yesterday, Kuppet officials led by Secretary-General Akelo Misori were holed up in a meeting for hours to consolidate their demands ahead of the meeting with TSC.
“We are meeting the TSC tomorrow (today),” he told the Nation when asked about the agenda of their meeting.
Kuppet Mombasa executive secretary Lynette Khamadi said a 30 to 70 percent increase in basic salaries was high on their list of proposals.
“The reason Kuppet is pushing for a 30 to 70 per cent salary increase is because of inflation, high cost of living, introduction of NSSF (National Social Security Fund) deductions which we were not contributing and the housing levy,” said the unionist, adding that statutory deductions such as for National Health Insurance Fund had also increased.
“If all these statutory deductions are implemented on a teacher’s pay slip, then the 10 per cent salary increment by the SRC doesn’t make sense, it’s not even a Sh500 increment. We also want promotions because many teachers have stagnated, especially diploma teachers who have remained at C2. Even after they get degrees, TSC does not give them an increment,” she said.
Knut, on the other hand, wants their employer to increase salaries, especially for the lowest cadres, citing financial challenges exacerbated by the increased cost of living.
Secretary-General, Collins Oyuu said following the enactment of the Finance Act 2023, which has pushed up the cost of living, salaries must be reviewed to cushion employees from the effects of the new tax laws.
Mr Oyuu said TSC had called the unions for a meeting because of the increment proposed by SRC.
“We need to talk about it to give it a legal perspective. You know teachers are not cane cutters who you just wake up and tell nimewaongeza shilingi tano (I have increased your pay by Sh5). We have to go through a process for this to be implemented,” he said.
“Our interest is first of all how the SRC proposed this because the 2017-2021 CBA had a lot of references and benefits for head teachers and their deputies, principals and deputy principals. And they lumped together a group they called classroom teachers as if others were teachers in the bathroom,” Mr Oyuu said.
According to the union boss, the 2017-2021 CBA does not have any provision for non-administrative teachers. However, he said in the review of the 2021-2025 CBA, Knut wants these teachers to be considered the most in the salary increase.
He said the lowest earning teacher should get the highest percentage increase while the highest-earning teacher should get the lowest percentage. The highest earning primary school teacher in the D5 job group earns a basic salary of Sh131,380 while the lowest earning teacher in the B5 job group goes home with Sh21,756.
“So we want to see how TSC has set up their table and then we will give our reactions, amendments, deletions and additions and we have to agree because this is going to be a collective agreement. We will also ask TSC to review the CBA as it is. You know it was a cashless CBA and we understood and engaged TSC less because of the SRC recommendations that not even one public sector union got a monetary CBA,” he added.
“TSC will give us their proposals and then we will make our counter-offer. What we will be arguing about is the 7 to 10 per cent, which should be Sh21 billion for both the civil service and teachers. It is not a lot of money,” Mr Oyuu added.
He said the unions were further weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic that affected the country’s economy. But now that the economy has improved, Knut says they are ready to review the monetary component of the CBA.
Knut will also discuss the recommendations of the Presidential Working Group on Education Reform. The union has opposed the move by the task force to demote non-graduate primary school heads, calling it “one of the worst” labour practices.
If the task force’s recommendations are implemented, thousands of non-graduate primary school head teachers will face demotion in January next year. In the recommendations, headteachers of primary schools that host junior secondary schools (JSS) will lead them for an interim period that will end on December 31.
“The CBA also talks about a recognition agreement, and we need to be clear enough to support the proposals of the Presidential Working Group on Education Reforms, but the issue of demoting head teachers who don’t have a degree is neither here nor there. Simply because administrative positions are generally substantive positions, meaning that you cannot be demoted, you can only be forced to leave by other means,” the unionist said.
Instead, Mr Oyuu said, Knut would insist that head teachers without degrees be given time to obtain the higher qualification.
The task force is proposing the creation of comprehensive schools, which would bring together the current nursery, primary and JSS in the same compound under a single head teacher.
There are more than 23,000 public primary schools in Kenya, most of which have been approved by the Ministry of Education to host JSS.
TSC and the ministry will be mandated to come up with guidelines for senior teachers who will work under the head. Head teachers who are not qualified to head comprehensive schools are expected to be given lesser roles.