TSC and unions should fix pay disputes early
Schools are closing for the long holiday and candidates are about to sit exams. The school calendar is abuzz with activities that will determine the future of many youngsters. However, the plans were about to be disrupted by a call to industrial action by teachers.
It has not been an easy ride for tutors while they push for better terms of service, as indicated in their Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA).
They expect that their employer, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), will fully implement the CBA, which they sign every five years.
Last July, the teachers’ unions had no option but to sign a non-monetary 2021-2025 CBA, which hardly happens with a new agreement.
Although they signed without any monetary benefits, the union officials promised members that a review on the basic pay would be undertaken after TSC is given a go-ahead by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC).
For the unions, it was a difficult decision to take as they assured their members that beside the contentious remuneration issue, there were other benefits in the agreement, which teachers would enjoy.
They were also optimistic of meeting with TSC at a later date to review the CBA when the economy improves.
The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) was seeking a 30 to 70 per cent increase on basic pay.
It has been a long wait for the teachers and in January, the union urged TSC to re-open discussions for involved parties to return to the negotiating table for the CBA within 21 days, failing which they would seek other avenues to address their grievances including a strike.
As they issued the ultimatum, they said that the Covid-19 pandemic excuse should no longer be used to deny teachers their deserved salary reviews.
The 21-day notice lapsed last week and the union threatened to call a strike just about the time national examinations are to begin.
However, last weekend, the union called off their intention to strike to allow a smooth examination process but asked the government to guarantee the security of teachers during supervision and invigilation.
More than 240,000 teachers will be engaged in administration of exams in the next two months and the fact that they have dropped the threat is a relief for candidates, who would have borne the brunt of the boycott.
It is, therefore, important for TSC and the unions to pursue an amicable solution to their problems early enough, because constant threats and industrial action are detrimental to learning.