- Teachers’ July salaries have been released extraordinarily late as TSC came up with two parallel payrolls to isolate Knut members from the rest.
- The union was opposed to the CPG, teacher professional development programmes and teacher appraisal system. They lost the case.
- The court directed the two parties to consider reviewing the prevailing schemes of service to align them with the CBA structure without breaching the code of regulations for teachers.
The shock move by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to leave members of the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) out of the third phase of the Sh13 billion salary increment has sparked outrage among senior tutors and administrators across the country.
Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion accused the TSC of punishing teachers simply because they belong to a union.
“That is pure contempt of the court ruling, a total violation of the CBA and an insult to teachers; an insult to the rule of law,” he told the Saturday Nation on phone.
“I cannot access my payslip through the portal but I have received the salary. I can’t believe there’s no increment,” said Ms Evelyn Ongogo, a senior teacher in Kakamega County.
He said the move is in contravention of a court ruling but did not specify the next course of action for the union.
“The commission has been playing games with us even though the union has also made us to suffer. How can TSC go back on a negotiated deal? I hope they are only scaring us,” a teacher from Mombasa County who did not wish to be named told the Saturday Nation.
The Kenya Secondary Schools’ Heads Association (Kessha) chairman Kahi Indimuli also condemned the TSC action, saying it was unfortunate that teachers are suffering because of a dispute.
“We continue to ask our employer to appeal the court judgment and stop punishing teachers over an issue that can be resolved by the courts,” Mr Indimuli said.
He said some Kessha members are also in Knut and it would be painful if they missed their benefits as a result of the standoff between TSC and the union.
Teachers’ July salaries have been released extraordinarily late as TSC came up with two parallel payrolls to isolate Knut members from the rest.
Non-members and those who belong to the rival Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) have received enhanced salaries, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between TSC and Knut in 2016, while union members did not receive any increment.
Some 103,624 teachers, including head teachers, deputy head teachers and senior teachers, will lose the benefits they earned previously under the Career Progression Guidelines (CPG) and have their new job grades reversed.
Further, the affected teachers will be expected to pay back previously enhanced salaries and allowances that they have enjoyed since July 1, 2017.
According to TSC, the action has been triggered by the court ruling on July 12, 2019 in favour of Knut that stopped the Career Progression Guidelines that the commission was using to remunerate teachers.
Principals who are Knut members in Job Grade D3 missed out on the Sh16,010 increment enjoyed by their peers to take their basic salary from Sh77,840 to Sh93,850. The top earners in the grade level will miss a Sh12,195 raise from Sh90,612 to Sh102,807 per month.
The lowest-paid chief principals (Grade D5; salary point 1) have been earning Sh111,201, which rises to Sh121,814 with the new salary while those at salary point 7 will take home, Sh157,656, up from Sh152,937.
Senior principals (Job Grade D4) at the lowest band, earning Sh99,730, will now earn Sh109,249 while those at the top of the grade, earning Sh114,632, now have a basic pay of Sh118,169 if they are not Knut members.
If the teachers’ employer makes good the threat to recover enhanced salaries, this would put many tutors in a difficult financial situation as many have made other monetary commitments, like taking up loans, based on the salary upgrade.
The statement by TSC does not spell out how the commission intends to recover the money.
The TSC went to the Employment and Labour Relations Court on December 31, 2018 after Knut issued a strike notice.
The union was opposed to the CPG, teacher professional development programmes and teacher appraisal system. They lost the case.
Justice Byram Ongaya set aside the CPG rules, which guide promotions, ruling that the TSC should carry the upgrades using the code of regulations for teachers and the relevant schemes of service.
The rules were developed to guide teachers’ career growth, including training and promotion, and replaced the schemes of service which were previously followed. The ruling seems to have turned out to be a pyrrhic victory for Knut and its members.
The TSC then filed for a stay of the orders, a prayer that was rejected. The two parties have gone ahead to interpret the court ruling differently.
Whereas TSC argues that the ruling effectively terminated the CBA signed between them in 2016, Knut has called for the full implementation of the CBA.
The TSC interprets the ruling as an order to revert to the schemes of service in place before the CBA was negotiated and signed.
“The court ruling that the terms and conditions of service for Knut members be applied within the framework of schemes of service and not CPG has made it extremely difficult for the commission to implement the CBA,” TSC said in a statement on Friday.
Under the CBA, teachers stood to enjoy salary increments of varying amounts according to their grades and salary points. The full agreement is meant to be implemented in four phases, with the last phase due in 2021.
The Special Schools Heads Association of Kenya chairman Arthur Azenga Injenga distanced the association from the push by Knut while the Kenya Primary Schools Headteachers Association national chairman Nicholas Gathemia declined to comment, saying he had not seen the TSC statement, neither was he able to access his payslip through the portal.
The TSC had set aside Sh500 million to pay the second phase of the increment at the end of July.
It has budgeted Sh13 billion every year to honour the CBA. The total cost of the CBA to the Exchequer is Sh54 billion.
“This is disgusting. Why should we be made to suffer because of a vendetta between TSC and Knut? Am I not doing my professional job as a teacher?” Ms Ongogo posed.
On the reversal of grades and recovery of benefits previously earned, Ms Ongogo asked: “Does membership to a union stop me from being a senior teacher? This does not make sense.”
Also in jeopardy are plans by the TSC to fill at least 5,000 vacancies for head teachers, deputies and principals since the court ruling stopped the commission from using the CPG.
“Appointment to headship and deputy headship under the CBAs must be competitive and must be based on performance. TSC is now unable to measure performance because it has been stopped from using the measurement tools,” said a senior TSC official, who declined to be quoted since he is not authorised to speak to the media, a day after the court made the ruling.
The court directed the two parties to consider reviewing the prevailing schemes of service to align them with the CBA structure without breaching the code of regulations for teachers.
The Knut has contested the interpretation of the court ruling by TSC and asked the commission to implement the court decision immediately.
“Nowhere in the judgment does it state that the CBA is dead. In fact, the ruling makes it easier for the implementation of the CBA,” Mr Sossion told the Nation at the time.