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Ex-teacher wants TSC made to define teachers’ working hours

Thursday September 26 2019

A teacher in class

A teacher supervising pupils in class. A retired school principal has moved to court seeking orders to compel the TSC to declare how many hours a teacher is supposed to work in a week. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOSEPH WANGUI
By JOSEPH WANGUI
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A retired school principal has moved to court seeking orders to compel the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to declare how many hours a teacher is supposed to work in a week.

At the same time, Mr Ephraim Mwangi Gachigua wants TSC made to stop abrupt transfers of teachers.

In a petition he has filed at the High Court in Nyeri, Mr Gachigua wants the commission to be giving a 30-day-notice before transferring any teacher.

Mr Gachigua says that the TSC should be compelled to state teachers’ working hours in line with the Employment Act.

TRANSFERS

While giving his personal experience of alleged oppression and abuse of employment rights by the teachers’ employer, Mr Gachigua says he wants to bring to an end abrupt transfers of teachers from one school to another.

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He cites his experience when he was a principal at Kanyama Secondary School in Mathira but was transferred to Kihome Secondary School in Othaya without any notice, a move he says was unconstitutional.

In the petition, where he has listed TSC and the Ministry of Education as the respondents, Mr Gachigua is also seeking Sh18 million in compensation for alleged violation of his rights as a government employee.

NOTICE

He wants TSC to at least give teachers a transfer notice of 30 days, arguing that it is unconstitutional for teachers to move under duress.

Currently, he says, teachers are being moved from one school to another abruptly, yet they have families and some live with life threatening diseases.

“’Teachers in this country are subjected to working for long hours. Sometimes principals are forced to wake up in the middle of the night. This is basically due to a lacuna where no stated hours are enumerated in teachers’ appointment letters,’’ Mr Gachagua says in his plaint.

He says in Kenya, the general working hours are 52 per week, but normal working hours are usually 45 weekly translating into eight hours from Monday to Friday and five hours on Saturday.

NO OVERTIME PAY

However, he says unlike in other professions and trades, teachers work for longer hours without overtime pay.

The former principal argues that this has brought out a strain in the teaching profession where most teachers are not even aware of their rights in regard to working hours, hence the need for review of the employment regulations which he says need radical changes.

He cites section 27 of the Employment Act which stipulates working days for any employee as the one which TSC has violated for many years.

He adds that the Act obliges employers to ensure their employees have at least one day of rest for seven days worked, which he says is not the case for teachers.

Mr Gachigua wants the court to compel TSC to strictly observe the provisions of the Employment Act, saying that teachers are owed millions of shillings for overtime and years they have worked without off days.