Naivasha talks collapse as both TSC and KNUT hold on to hard line positions

The Naivasha consultative meeting between the Teachers Service Commission, TSC, and the Kenya national union of Teachers, KNUT, ended pre-maturely with no major agreements between the two parties. The consultative that began on Monday hit a dead end yesterday after KNUT tabled a list of 85 teachers whose transfer it wanted revoked immediately, a move the teachers’ employer strongly rejected. According to KNUT, some of thye teachers were union officials who have now been moved from their respective branches. In a statement, TSC Chief Executive Officer Dr. Nancy Macharia says “Employees who hold elective offices in Unions, SACCOS, among others are primarily employed to teach and are bound by the code of regulations for teachers, which include provisions on transfer of teachers. Election to any union office can not, therefore, be used to irregularly amend the contract between an employer and employee”.

Dr. Macharia further adds that, “all TSC employees have a right under article 27 of the commission and section 4 of the TSC act to be treated fairly without being subjected to any discrimination. It is, therefore, unreasonable and discriminatory for KNUT to demand different treatment for 85 teachers out of the 321,007 in public learning institutions on account of their elective positions in the union”.

The meeting was held pursuant to an earlier meeting on 23rd August 2018 to address some issues that have emerged in the course of the implementation of the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement. Some of the issues included: promotion of teachers, career progression, teachers appraisal programme and transfers.

In a move by the TSC, that is seen to cede some ground, the employer has already agreed to release all the 111 KNUT Executive Secretaries to work full time for the union. This will be bad news, though, for teachers with higher qualifications who had hoped for promotions. Three weeks ago, KNUT had issued a strike threat saying it will call its members to a nationwide strike if TSC does not meet its demands that include: the halting of the teacher delocalization exercise, scrapping of the appraisal programmes among others. “Remember the strike is only suspended and it shall be recalled promptly without any warning should the retreat (of 30/09/2018 to 5/10/2018) fail to produce fruits”, KNUT Secretary General , Wilson Sossion, had said. Sossion had threatened of a strike to paralyze the National examinations, that commence in about three weeks time.

While the talks remain in jeopardy, the TSC has maintained its commitment to harmonious industrial relations with the teachers’ union and said any industrial action at this time could affect national examinations. The TSC urges the union to put learners’ interests first . “Finally, the commission wishes to affirm its commitment to harmonious industrial relations with KNUT. Further, TSC is ready to continue with the deliberations on the monitoring of the implementation of the CBA for the benefit of the Kenyan child. In the meantime, the commission appeals to KNUT to put the interests of learners first”, said Dr. Macharia.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers leadership is yet to give a statement on the latest developments. Parents and students will be waiting anxiously for KNUT’s response and if indeed they will make good of their threats to stage a strike this term.

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