What you need to know:
- Since sometimes last year, TSC has been running a separate payroll for Knut members in what is seen as a ploy to divide teachers.
- Teachers are collaterals in a bigger and long-drawn-out war between the TSC and Knut leadership.
The fresh row between the Teachers Service Commission and Kenya National Union of Teachers is unwarranted. It threatens to spark another round of a bitter contest between the teachers and their employer amid a grave pandemic that has thoroughly disrupted the education sector.
At the heart of the dispute is the discriminative implementation of a new salary package for teachers, where members of Knut have been left out while the rest were awarded a fatter pay cheque. The deal is part of the phased 2017-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Ideally, all teachers were covered by the CBA and, accordingly, the National Treasury allocated cash for all of them.
However, at the implementation stage, the TSC has deliberately excluded Knut members. Since sometimes last year, TSC has been running a separate payroll for Knut members in what is seen as a ploy to divide teachers. This is difficult to understand because all teachers work for the same employer and serve learners impartially. It is inconceivable that the TSC can divide teachers and expect them to show equal commitment.
However, the teachers are collaterals in a bigger and long-drawn-out war between the TSC and Knut leadership. In recent years, there has been an orchestrated war to weaken Knut and render it incapable of representing teachers effectively. In itself, that is misguided because trade unionism is an integral component of labour relations and belonging to a union a constitutional right for workers. Teacher members of Knut have not committed any offence; they are exercising their labour and constitutional right. Therefore, they should not be victimised.
A cordial and working relationship is vital for the TSC and Knut. TSC, Knut and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers Union (Kuppet) have a single duty to serve teachers, who, in turn, are expected to work in the interest of learners. Harmony is paramount. Oftentimes, we have chided the unions when they engage in meaningless and provocative pursuits that disrupt teaching and learning. The converse also obtains for the TSC; it has to demonstrate commitment and sincerity to serving teachers. If TSC management has a beef to pick with Knut, then it should deal with that separately without hurting teachers.
We call for dialogue to thrash out the contentious issues. Prolonged pay disputes between TSC and Knut does not augur well for the teaching profession, but only demoralises teachers, ultimately compromising quality education. Let all teachers be given the pay they deserve.