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Education International Blames TSC of Interfering with KNUT’s Internal Affairs, Crippling the Union

Education International (EI) has urged the Kenyan Government to stop the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) from continuing its conflict with the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and restore a good working environment that will lead to quality education.

The EI said that KNUT’s survival is at risk due to a systematic assault that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) launched against the members of the union. The alleged assault has led to discrimination among KNUT members, have been denied coverage of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and have been deprived of membership fees to the union.

The Global Union Federation noted that the attack has affected the capacity of KNUT to provide services to members and caused considerable hardship for representatives of the union.

It is notable that KNUT fought to establish the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and even calling for its creation in a national strike in the year 1966. The move was a national counterpart for negotiations and cooperation on education and professional issues of teachers.

Parliament acted and then the TSC became operational in July of 1967.

“There were periodic tensions in the past, but the TSC’s destructive campaign against the union escalated in 2019. It included establishing two parallel payrolls in the Public Teaching Service. Under this double payroll system, non-KNUT members were paid enhanced salaries and allowances.”

Education International alleges that KNUT members have been victims of discrimination on promotions and upgrades via changes that TSC effected without any approval from the legislature.

Education International feels that this kind of treatment (discrimination) is against the national law, court orders, or Kenya’s international treaty obligations under ILO standards of labor.

In May 2019, as KNUT was in the process of negotiating with the Teachers Service Commission over the implementation of the five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2017, the TSC unilaterally suspended the CBA and introduced a digital validation of union members illegally. This caused KNUT to lose members.

KNUT secretary-general Wilson Sossion has repeatedly accused the Commission of inciting teachers to leave the union for them to benefit from the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement.

In September 2019, more than 86,000 primary and post-primary teachers were illegally removed from the KNUT membership. Some KNUT officials also suffered the same fate.

After TSC attempts to decimate KNUT’s membership, TSC sought to evoke the 1968 recognition agreement but a judge blocked the move as legal proceedings continue.

“In the summer of 2020, the Education Committee of Parliament held hearings and, in August, adopted resolutions that were supported by all the education unions. The committee’s proposal was aimed at reversing several of the measures taken by the TSC and resolving remaining issues through negotiations,” stated the EI.

In the months that followed after the parliamentary act, KNUT held positive discussions with the Parliamentary Education Committee as well as the Ministry of Labour.

“However, the TSC campaign has continued. It has ignored the action of parliament as well as the national laws and regulations.”

Education International Concerned

Education International is concerned about TSC’s blatant disregard of the international labor standards, national laws, courts, and decisions of parliament.

The EI is also concerned that TSC’s incessant targeted assault on KNUT’s leadership and membership and even interfering in the internal affairs of the union.

EI executive Board now wants the Government of Kenya to interfere and make TSC reverse the anti-union actions against KNUT and conduct a dialogue and restore healthy industrial relations in good faith, as well as foster a good environment for quality education.

The EI is also of the opinion that TSC restores membership of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) to what it was in June 2019, stop discriminating against KNUT members concerning their remuneration, promotions, and working conditions, implement the 2021-2021 collective bargaining agreement, all court orders and decisions that Parliament made.

The EI, the world’s largest, most representative global organization of unions insists that it shall give full support for KNUT in their fight to get full respect of trade union’s rights and the interests of their members.

“Declares that the struggle of the KNUT to preserve and defend their trade union is our fight and that of the global trade union movement. EI commits to mobilize solidarity to defend the right and progress of teachers in Kenya,” read the EI’s statement.

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