Knut declares total war on TSC over bid to cut links

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019 20:30 | By
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Wilson Sossion. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has declared total war on Teachers Service Commission for terminating agreement with the union.

Secretary general Wilson Sossion said the battle between the two bodies reached boiling point on Monday after the Commission issued a notice to terminate its 5-year-old agreement with the union over dwindling membership.

The union has, however, given the commission seven days to convene a meeting to discuss the matters causing friction between them.

“The threat by the commission to revoke the recognition agreement, is not only a big joke but against the trade laws,” warned Sossion.

He told People Daily during an interview at Parliament Buildings the union would move to have Commission Board chairperson Lydia Nzomo and chief executive Nancy Macharia removed from office.

“The two officials have failed in their mandate. Instead of bringing together teachers and addressing their needs, they have been fighting their representatives left, right and centre. It is the (sic) high time that we part ways,” Sossion said.

He claimed TSC plotted his recent purported removal from office.  

 Macharia has written to the 60-year-old union notifying it of intention to “revoke the recognition agreement” in two months.

According to Macharia, Knut does not have majority of teachers employed by the TSC in its register and therefore, cannot be recognised as a union.

But yesterday, Sossion insisted that the union has 190,000 registered members dismissing Macharia’s figures as her own imagination.

The notice to the union read in part: “Take notice that in view of Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the commission has made the requisite application to the National Labour Board.”

The notice has intensified the conflict between TSC and Knut, which last week resulted in Sossion’s deregistration from the teachers roll.

By terminating Sossion’s contract as a teacher it literary stopped him from practicing in any school in the country.

The country has 318,000 teachers in both public and primary schools and therefore for Knut to exist it must have at least 159,000 members.

But Macharia says Knut’s register has 115,000 members only.

The commission early this year stopped implementing the 2017-2021 CBA after a court ordered that terms of employment be based on the schemes of service and not career progression guidelines (CPG) as TSC had wanted.

It was after the court ruling that the commission told KNUT that it could not implement the benefits under the third phase of the CBA, prompting thousands of teachers to leave the union for Kuppet in order to benefit from the Sh13 billion pay rise in the second phase of the CBA.

“The situation further aggravates the already bad existing relations between the two bodies and blamed it on their employer,” said the unionist.

“Your latest communication on termination or revoking recognition agreement between TSC and Knut on grounds of membership is hereby rejected by Knut as it is not only illegal and unconstitutional but is also a fulfillment of the ill interests from your end,” Sossion said.

He said the 50+1 simple majority was required on new applications of recognition but not when a union is already recognised.

“In the face of law, Knut remains recognised and the recognition agreement remains in force. You are obligated to engage the union in all matters as provided for in the recognition agreement. Your letter is mere escapist strategy to avoid engaging the union,” Sossion charged.

He said Knut continued to command the simple majority of membership in the teaching service and accused TSC of continually mutilating the register.

As at June, Sossion said, Knut membership stood at 187,000 before TSC introduced validation circular of June 10, which was subsequently set aside by Employment and Labour Relations court in August.

“In July, you introduced two payrolls, contrary to provisions of Employment Act and International Labour Convention which prohibits discrimination and reduction of pay and was also in gross violation of CBA whose pay was awarded by Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and not TSC,” he said.

Sossion also condemned TSC’s failure to deduct union dues in favour of Knut in July and August, a strong indicator of a strategy to mess up the union’s register and offloaded 70,000 teachers illegally.

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