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MPs Accuse KNUT of Failing and Betraying Teachers

MPs Question Knut's Alleged Collaboration with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC)

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MPs Accuse KNUT of Failing and Betraying Teachers

Elected officials of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) met criticism from the Education Committee of the National Assembly, who slammed them for neglecting their responsibility to advocate for the concerns and welfare of teachers.

The lawmakers were additionally dissatisfied with the officials’ lack of transparency regarding the recruitment fees they collect from teachers and how the funds are used.

Hezbon Otieno, the union’s Deputy General Secretary, encountered challenges in pleading for the union during his Tuesday appearance before the committee in response to a petition that had been submitted to the committee. 

The teachers express discontent in the petition that their salaries still need to be updated to reflect their new responsibilities as head teachers, despite their promotion to that rank.

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Luanda MP Dick Maungu accused the union of letting down teachers and questioned their commitment to ensuring teacher safety and value for money. He raised concerns about a potential collaboration between the union and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), suggesting that such cooperation might lead to teachers’ frustration, contrary to the union’s intended protective role.

“You’re a letdown to teachers. Right now teachers aren’t safe with you and they don’t get value for money. Might you be in bed with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to frustrate the same teachers you’re meant to protect? Your behaviour is not that of a trade union,” said Luanda MP Dick Maungu. 

Maungu criticized the union’s behavior, stating that it does not align with the typical conduct expected of a trade union.

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Julius Melly, the committee head, requested that the union officials disclose the monthly revenue and the number of members listed on its membership roster. 

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However, Mr. Otieno stated that he needed more precise figures and requested additional data collection time. He appeared on behalf of Collins Oyuu, the general secretary.

Mr. Melly urged Mr. Otieno to furnish documentation regarding the collection and utilization of the funds, emphasizing that the union must adequately represent the teachers. 

In response, Mr. Otieno mentioned that each member contributes two percent of their salary to the union. The union has been working to recover from the recent loss of thousands of members.

According to Mr. Maungu’s estimate, some members of Parliament concur that the union makes more than Sh100 million each month.

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Additionally, Mr. Melly levied allegations against the union, alleging that it lodged complaints regarding how the TSC advances teachers through its career progression policy.

Mr. Melly expressed concerns about the representative’s capability to advocate for teachers, questioning their decision to sign the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on behalf of teachers. 

The MP highlighted perceived inconsistencies in the signed document that allegedly disadvantaged many teachers. He criticized the union for allegedly letting down teachers while continuing to collect dues from them.

Within one week, he directed the union’s leaders to appear before the committee and provide an account of the union’s membership, revenue, and expenses. 

In addition, they were requested to furnish a roster of teachers who had undergone salary increases despite receiving promotions and those who had been transferred from primary to junior schools.

The allowances remained unchanged.

In response to the petition, Mr. Otieno informed the committee that salaries and allowances for the approximately 1,000 teachers who were interviewed for senior graduate teacher positions and subsequently promoted to head teachers under job group M (renamed C5) remained unchanged.

While others maintained their positions as senior and classroom teachers, certain educators were appointed deputy head teachers. As senior teachers, the teachers, according to Mr. Otieno, ought to have been transferred to group D1; however, this did not occur. Group D1 comprises senior graduate teachers who are chief teachers, whereas Group C5 comprises individuals with equivalent qualifications.

A collective of teachers with identical qualifications in the same job group predating the CBA find themselves in comparable roles, encountering similar challenges but receiving disparate salaries and allowances. This misalignment contradicts part II, section 5 of the Labor Relations Act of 2007, as highlighted by Mr. Otieno.

MPs Accuse KNUT of Failing and Betraying Teachers

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