Teachers threaten to call strike, say TSC disrespectful

Monday March 20 2017

Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary General, Wilson Sossion.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) Secretary General, Wilson Sossion during a past press conference in Nairobi on January 8, 2017. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By OUMA WANZALA
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A teacher’s union has threatened to call out its members for a nationwide strike if their employer does not engage them immediately.

Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive officer Nancy Macharia must call an emergency meeting to resolve pending issues which are affecting teachers.

“Note that some issues are so dear to the teachers and we are under very intense pressure from our members and these are matters that border on industrial,” said Mr Sossion in a letter to Mrs Macharia dated March 20.

Knut wants to meet TSC to discuss recognition of new qualification as contained in the scheme of service for teachers as they want teachers to be promoted on graduation.

The union also wants discussions on employment of more teachers and proper engagement in the development of the implementation schedule of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as was agreed in Naivasha last year.

“These are explosive matters that the union shall be left with no option but to invoke an industrial action at the shortest notice possible if you are not willing to engage us and resolve them. We demand for a meeting and our previous demands in all our correspondences remain,” said Mr Sossion.

Knut want the government to employ more than 90,000 teachers to address the current shortage.

In July, the government has only budget for employment of 5,000 teachers.

In the letter also copied to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Labour counterpart Phyllis Kandie, Mr Sossion cautioned Mrs Macharia against using junior officers to reply to letters addressed to her.

“All these correspondences are replies to demand letters to your office on very weighty matters affecting teachers, issues that require your personal attention and hence our demand for a policy meeting to discuss them,” said Mr Sossion.

He went on: “Our demand for a policy meeting is within our constitutional rights, within the Provisions of the Labour Relations Act and within the provisions of the ILO/UNESCO recommendation of 1966 concerning the status of the teachers and the Collective Bargaining Agreement. These are therefore our irreducible and non-negotiable rights that we cannot request for but demand.”

Mr Sossion said the commission cannot redefine the standard labour relations that have existed between the union and it for years.

“It is arrogant and disrespectful for your office to direct junior staff in your organisation to reply to us in the manner they have done. We expect your own personal engagement with us at all times because of the weighty matters,” said Mr Sossion.