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Blow to teachers as TSC severs ties with Knut

Monday November 4 2019

TSC CEO Nancy Macharia

Teachers Service Commission CEO Nancy Macharia apppears before the National Assembly Committee on Education at Parliament buildings on February 21, 2019. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

KARIUKI WAIHENYA
By KARIUKI WAIHENYA
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The Teachers Service Commission is terminating its 51-year-old agreement with the Kenya National Union of Teachers, citing shrinking membership.

Dr Nancy Macharia, the TSC chief executive, has written to the 60-year-old union notifying it of intention to “revoke the recognition agreement” in two months.

She says Knut does not have the majority of teachers employed by the TSC in its register and therefore cannot be recognised as a union.

“Take notice that in view of Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the commission has made the requisite application to the National Labour Board,” says the notice addressed to the union’s secretary general.

ESCALATION

The notice is a severe escalation of the wars between the TSC and Knut mostly fought through courts and street protests by teachers.

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Late last week TSC terminated Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion's contract as a teacher, blocking him from teaching in any school whether public or private.

“The Teachers Service Commission has removed the name of the individual named herein (Wilson Sossion) from the register of teachers. Further under the law, the individual cannot engage in teaching in any school,” said the notice by TSC.

According to the Labour Act, recognition of a union by the TSC is dependent on it having 50 per cent plus one of all the teachers in the commission’s register.

The country has 318,000 teachers in both public and primary schools and therefore Knut needs to have at least 159,000 members.

However, according to the commission’s latest register, Knut, which mostly represents primary school teachers, has only 115,000 members.

HUGE TURNOVER

The union has suffered a huge turnover since the beginning of the year after the TSC stopped implementing the 2017-2021 CBA after a court ordered that terms of employment be based on the schemes of service and not career progression guidelines (CPG) as TSC had wanted.

The commission said that based on the ruling, it could not implement the benefits under the third phase of the CBA.

Following, the court ruling, many teachers applied to leave the union for Kuppet in order to benefit from the Sh13 billion pay rise in the second phase of the CBA.

Besides his fights with the TSC, Mr Sossion has been facing opposition Knut’s executive council who in August kicked him out of office.

A court however nullified the coup and reinstalled him as the secretary-general. Mr Sossion neither answered calls to his mobile phone nor replied to text messages.