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Teachers’ Unions Battle Intensifies Over TSC’s Proposed Amendments

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Teachers’ Unions Battle Intensifies Over TSC’s Proposed Amendments

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) are gearing up for a battle to regain trust among their members and assert their authority vis-a-vis the employer.

Both unions have taken firm stances regarding the proposed amendments to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Act, revealing a new battleground following their previous non-monetary Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which alienated them from their members.

ALSO READ: Battle for Sh435 Billion Control: Ministry of Education vs. Teachers Service Commission (TSC)

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Recently, the TSC called for a public participation meeting on the proposed amendments, sparking strong reactions from the unions.

Knut opted out of the meeting, with Secretary-General Collins Oyuu criticizing the proposed changes as punitive to teachers and expressing their unwillingness to participate further.

While Kuppet attended a consultative meeting, Secretary-General Akello Misori criticized TSC’s authoritarian approach and its pursuit of increased powers, highlighting the unions’ role in its establishment.

Statements from Oyuu and Misori expose longstanding tensions between the unions, now seizing the opportunity to advocate for their members and reclaim their influence.

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Shift Towards Defiance

Following passive negotiations that led to an unsatisfactory CBA, the unions are now adopting a more confrontational approach, signaling a renewed struggle for membership dominance.

ALSO READ: TSC’s New Law Bars Teachers From Hosting Students in Their Homes: Penalties

In interviews, union officials outlined their grievances with the proposed amendments, particularly TSC’s exclusion of unions from salary reviews and reliance solely on the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for determining teachers’ pay.

The Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (KUSNET), though relatively new to the scene and unaccustomed to high-stakes union politics, has joined the fray against the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

James Torome, Secretary General of KUSNET, expressed concern over the safety of teachers, alongside learners, questioning why teachers are being driven away from schools by thugs. He emphasized the challenge of measuring poor performance of duty, highlighting an overlooked aspect in the discourse.

Established in February 2011, KUSNET gained recognition from TSC in March 2021, marking a significant milestone for the nascent union.

KNUT’s Critique of TSC’s Proposals

Meanwhile, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), represented by Oyuu, criticized TSC’s approach to disciplining teachers, citing a departure from the constitutional provision of fair hearing. Oyuu also highlighted concerns regarding teacher pensions and data management, citing potential violations of existing laws.

ALSO READ: TSC Proposed Amendments Deepens Rift Between KNUT and KUPPET

Knut has expressed dissatisfaction with the transfer of Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers to Kuppet, seeing it as favoritism by TSC towards the rival union. This move has sparked concerns within Knut regarding fair representation and union dominance.

KUPPET Asks TSC to Transfer Teachers from Mogusii Secondary Over Rising Community Hostility
Teachers’ Unions Battle Intensifies Over TSC’s Proposed Amendments

In the midst of proposed amendments to the TSC Act, a subtle power struggle ensues as education unions seek to assert their influence and safeguard their members’ interests.

Omboko Milemba, chairman of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), emphasized the need for clarity on teacher training and promotions, signaling areas for potential collaboration with TSC.

However, tensions between the unions have surfaced, with allegations of collaboration with government bodies. KNUT accuses Kuppet of aligning closely with TSC, while Kuppet accuses KNUT of collaboration with Ministry of Education officials.

Origins of the Conflict

The conflict between KNUT and KUPPET dates back to November 1998 when the government permitted the registration of KUPPET, primarily to counterbalance the influence of KNUT, which had been dominant until then.

ALSO READ: KNUT Boycotts Meeting with TSC, Criticizes Proposed Education Reforms

KUPPET officials emphasize that Junior Secondary School (JSS) teachers are indeed secondary school educators, contrary to assertions made by KNUT. They argue that the curriculum they teach aligns with that of high schools, even though their students are situated in primary schools.

Misori asserted that JSS teachers are secondary school educators and dismissed claims suggesting otherwise. He refuted the assertion that they had transitioned to KUPPET, labeling it as untrue.

Contrarily, Oyuu stressed that JSS does not fall under post-primary education, highlighting changes introduced by the presidential working party. He called for honesty in the discourse surrounding this issue.

Oyuu insisted on the openness of their constitution, pointing out that many secondary school teachers are already members of KUPPET. He defended the absence of clear demarcation in labor relations law and affirmed teachers’ right to choose their union freely.

Historical Context: 2013 Dispute

The dispute over representation is not new; in 2013, then-KNUT Secretary General Wilson Sossion raised concerns with the Ministry of Labour regarding the interpretation of the Labour Relations Act.

ALSO READ: TSC Proposes Stricter Professional Development Requirements for Teachers

In response to Sossion’s protest, William Langat, the registrar of trade unions at the time, clarified the jurisdiction of both unions based on their respective constitutions.

Misori rejected KNUT’s interference in KUPPET’s internal matters, citing provisions within the Labour Relations Act pertaining to the autonomy of trade unions.

The battle for representation among teachers reflects a broader struggle for influence that has persisted since 2012. Efforts to amend KUPPET’s constitution to include primary teacher representation underscore the intensity of this rivalry.

Conclusion

The ongoing dispute over the constituency of representation between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) has deep roots and significant implications for the teaching sector in Kenya.

Recent exchanges between officials from both unions reflect the long-standing tension regarding membership and representation.

ALSO READ: TSC Act Amendments: How to Participate/Submit Input on TSC Amendment Bill 2024

As KNUT and KUPPET fight for dominance in representing Kenya’s teachers, the historical context and legal intricacies surrounding their jurisdiction continue to shape the dynamics of this ongoing conflict.

Teachers’ Unions Battle Intensifies Over TSC’s Proposed Amendments

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