Teachers now threaten to strike, accusing TSC and SRC of acting in bad faith
The new academic year scheduled to start on July 26 could be disrupted after teachers’ unions threatened a strike to press for a pay rise.
This is after a fruitless six-hour talk between the unions and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
TSC had invited officials of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education teachers (Kusnet) for talks on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the next four years.
However, after the meeting, it emerged that TSC’s counter-offer excluded a pay rise, apparently in compliance with a recent Salaries and Remuneration Commission directive freezing salary increment for two years.
Instead, TSC offered mock benefits like improved maternity and paternity leave. The unions rejected the offer, vowing not to allow the TSC to use SRC directives to deny teachers a pay rise.
“They have not offered anything. We have, therefore, given TSC seven days to give us a counter-offer; failure to that, we will ask teachers not to report to schools for the First Term that is beginning in August,” said Kuppet secretary general Akelo Misori.
Misori said that what happened yesterday clearly indicates that the TSC has been secretly working together with the SRC to frustrate teachers’ demands for a salary review. He said TSC cannot use the Covid-19 pandemic and the advisory they got from the SRC as an excuse to give teachers a “non-monetary counter offer”.
“Kuppet cannot sign a CBA with no monetary benefits given the wide disparities in remuneration across cadres in the expiring 2016-2021 CBA coupled with the sharp inflation in the country. This is the time to review teachers’ salaries,” he said, adding, TSC has been acting in bad faith and had waited until the last minute to offer them nothing.
“The timing of the offer was designed to present the union with fait accomplishment, to create a vacuum in the teaching profession but we will not fall for it,” he added.
Mr Misori said that, by offering nothing, TSC has ignored the plight of teachers who are front-line workers in the fight against Covid 19 and have borne a heavy economic impact.
Newly elected secretary general Collins Oyuu said his union, Knut, was also disappointed by the TSC’s non-monetary counter-offer.
“The proposals were strong on maternity and paternity leave, but will this bring food on the table? We came out with nothing in terms of pay and I cannot be crucified by members with just two days in office,” said Mr Oyuu.
Mr Oyuu, however, said Knut was happy to have been invited for the negotiations. On the bad relationship between TSC and Knut, Mr Oyuu said they have agreed to improve industrial relations.
Kusnet secretary general James Torome said they did not agree with the TSC as whatever was presented does not give teachers a salary increment.
“We are not opposed to the maternity, paternity and pre-adoptive offers, but we have asked the TSC to give us a serious counter offer,” said Mr Torome