Parliament yesterday directed the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to reinstate 130,000 teachers removed from the teachers’ union register by end of this month.
Appearing before Parliament’s Education Committee yesterday, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) told MPs how the teachers’ employer hatched an elaborate plot to strip it of its members, crippling its operations and putting the union on its death bed.
The union’s deputy secretary general Hesbon Otieno told MPs that with more than 700 staff across 110 branches, the diminished numbers had made it difficult to sustain its operations.
He said TSC designed, printed and directly delivered forms to schools and compelled teachers to exit the union. “TSC manually removed our members from the union without authority. This is happening now in the payroll of August,” said Mr Otieno.
If implemented, the order to reinstate members is expected to give Knut its past numerical and financial muscle.
At the moment, Knut has about 50,000 members raking in Sh49 million, down from Sh130 million when its membership was 180,000 in June last year.
However, the TSC said yesterday’s meeting did not issue any orders but only proposed ways to end a standoff between the union and Knut.
“There has been a narrative that TSC removed members from Knut to benefit rival union and that is not true. If teachers left any union they did so on their own based on a court ruling that worked against them,” said Beatrice Wababu, TSC Head of Corporate Affairs.
The rival union, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), which was represented in yesterday’s meeting, distanced itself from the TSC and Knut membership row.
“Let them end the court cases and go back to the negotiation table. This will also be good for Kuppet because we want to move together as we kick start talks for the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA),” said Omboko Milemba, Kuppet national chairman.
The order by MPs is seen as a major boost to Knut’s bargaining power that had dwindled in the recent past. Focus now shifts to the new CBA negotiations as the present one expires at the end of this Financial Year.
At the meeting, MPs also instructed Knut and TSC to meet and iron out issues that have poisoned industrial relations between the teachers and their employer, among them, claims of parallel payrolls.
Nancy Macharia, TSC’s Chief Executive Officer, told MPs the commission was audited by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and cleared of the double payroll allegations.
In their resolutions, MPs also asked TSC and Knut to withdraw the numerous pending cases in court to pave the way for talks to restore industrial harmony.
In her presentation to the MPs, Dr Macharia listed five matters pending before court, four of them lodged by Knut.
The MPs pleaded with both parties to withdraw the cases. “I have spoken with Knut and they are willing to drop all the cases for the sake of peaceful industrial relations. I request TSC to also consider doing the same,” said the committee’s chair Florence Mutua.
The MPs also proposed a sub-committee to reconcile the TSC and Knut.
Should the TSC defy the committees’ resolution, MPs can sanction it, including by enforcing budgetary cuts.