Revealed: How Magoha averted KUPPET’s planned strike

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha brokered a truce between the Teachers Service Commission and a leading tutors’ unions, which averted a strike that could have paralysed national examinations.

The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) had last month given TSC seven days to respond to its demands over a pay rise or face industrial action.

With exams around the corner, the CS intervened and advised Kuppet to engage their employer in more talks to ensure the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) go on uninterrupted.

Speaking at Karibaribi Secondary School in Kiambu County yesterday, where he commissioned a new classroom, the CS urged the unions to exhaust all other methods before considering a strike.

“Chapter 15 of the constitution gives the TSC unfettered freedom to deal with Kuppet, but I reached out to the union to call off the strike. We have agreed that we are not going to use our children as pawns,’’ Prof Magoha said.

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Kuppet wants TSC to revive talks on the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) they signed last year. The agreement contains a curious clause that bars unions from calling a strike without seeking permission from the employer.

“As the commission is well aware, the consequences of the remaining options may be dire,” Kuppet secretary-general Akello Misori had warned last month.

Kuppet has been pushing for a revision of the CBA to raise salaries by between 30 and 70 per cent, saying the economy has recovered from the slump caused by the Covid-19 pandemic when they signed the deal.

Kuppet wants the lowest teacher to be paid a basic salary of Sh59,425 per month up from Sh34,955 and a chief principal to take home Sh153,715 up from Sh118,242.

TSC has, however, been reluctant to engage in negotiations. Last week, it asked the union to give it time to consult other government agencies. It also cited the need to ensure the examinations are not interrupted.

“The commission regrets the tone of your letter and the threat to industrial action at this early stage. It is our very considered view that the same is not only premature but also unwarranted,” wrote Mr Cavin Anyuor, the TSC director for legal affairs, labour and industrial relations.

“We call upon [Kuppet] to consider the national interests of the country and review its position on the matter,” he added.

Prof Magoha yesterday assured parents and candidates that all the security arrangements have been put in place in all areas plagued by insecurity to ensure that the exams proceed smoothly.

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