Teachers Will Have To Stick To KNUT, KUPPET, KUSNET as Govt Declines To Register New Teachers’ Unions
Efforts of registering another teachers’ trade union have hit a brick wall after the Registrar of Trade Unions declined to register the Kenya National Union of Classroom Teachers (KNUCT) on the basis that there already exists registered trade unions representing the rights and interests of teachers in the said category. A letter signed by the Registrar of Trade Unions, Mrs Elizabeth Gicheha dated November 10, 2021 sent to KNUCT through Ondieki and Ondieki Advocates, who applied for a certificate on September 23,2021, indicated that the intention of the law is that a proposed trade union would engage on recruitment for the sectors where no other trade union exists.
In 2020, the National Education Union (NEU) received the same blow. A letter signed by Mrs Gicheha dated August 26, 2020 addressed to NEU through Salim Omar and Company Advocates, who made a formal application for a certificate on August 24, 2020, reads in part, “I wish to inform you that contrary to the assertion by your client, there already exists registered trade Unions representing the rights and interests of the envisioned scope of representation.” She stated in the letter that Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) under its registered constitution represents every registered, certified, licensed or authorized teachers of all grade and qualification in Kenya while Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) under its registered constitution represents teachers/trainers in secondary and tertiary institutions of good conduct and reputation, certified, licensed or authorised to teach.
She also noted that Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (KUSNET) under its registered constitution represents every trained and undergoing training teacher registered by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and other ministries and is employed in the field of Special Needs Education and Early Childhood Education while Kenya Union of Pre-Primary Education Teachers (KUNOPPET) under its registered constitution represents all teachers in Early Childhood Education of good conduct and reputation, certified, licensed or authorized to teach.
The Registrar further explained that Kenya Union of Private Schools Teachers (KNUPST) under its registered constitution represents every trained teacher and tutor engaged to teach in private schools and private educational institutions i.e. private kindergartens, nurseries, preprimary, primary and secondary schools whose professional conduct of charge can be sustained.
Kenya Union of Technical and Vocational Education Trainers (KUTVET) drew its membership from TVET institutions like National Polytechnics, Technical Training Institutions (TTIs) Technical and Vocational Centres (TVCs) and Teacher Colleges. Had NEU’s registration been accepted, the union would have recruited its members from preprimary, primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as those in private institutions. Such recruitment would have been a major breakaway from tradition where unions targeted membership from only one category of teachers.
Ms. Martha Omollo, who is the spokesperson of Kenya National Teachers Pressure Group (KNTPG), confirmed that she was among those proposing and pushing for the registration of NEU, arguing that teachers want a union they can associate with. “Together with other teachers, we were transferred for speaking against the Teacher Professional Development (TPD), for referring to the collapse of unions since they no longer speak for the Kenyan teacher and speaking up against the TSC Minet health insurance company covering teachers,” said Ms. Omollo. She added that teachers want a new union which they can associate with since they currently feel strangled in unions compromised by TSC.
“How does one explain why Knut withdrew or rather as the SG claim they only set aside the cases that were shielding teachers against punitive policies? If the unions can’t speak for us, we’ll speak for ourselves,” she said. Sources also revealed that Mr Nelson Kirui, who was among those transferred, received his transfer letter while outside a hospital theatre where his wife was undergoing surgery. He was among those proposing and calling for the registration of KNUCT.
In November this year, many teachers who were members and leaders of KNTPG were transferred to far-flung work stations in what TSC termed as a normal transfer, though many saw it as a move perceived to be a crackdown on those associated with the activities of the group.