You are a Let Down to Teachers, Legislators Tell KNUT
Top officials of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) faced criticism from members of the National Assembly’s Education Committee, who accused them of failing in their duty to represent the interests of teachers.
The MPs were also unhappy with the officials’ failure to disclose the amount of money they receive from teachers as recruitment fees and how the money is spent.
Knut Deputy General Secretary Hezbon Otieno had a difficult time defending the union when he appeared before the committee on Tuesday to respond to a petition submitted to the committee. In the petition, the teachers complain that despite being posted to head schools, their salaries have not been adjusted to reflect their new responsibilities.
“You’re a letdown to teachers. Right now teachers aren’t safe with you and they don’t get value for money. Might you be in bed with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to frustrate the same teachers you’re meant to protect? Your behaviour is not that of a trade union,” said Luanda MP Dick Maungu.
The chairperson of the committee, Julius Melly, asked the union officials to state the number of members it has on its register and the amount it collects each month.
But Mr Otieno said he did not have the exact figures and asked for more time to gather the information. He appeared on behalf of the general secretary, Collins Oyuu.
“Provide documentation on the collections and what you do with that money yet you don’t represent the teachers,” said Mr Melly.
Mr Otieno would only say that each member pays two per cent of their salary to the union, which is on the mend after losing thousands of members recently.
Mr Maungu estimated that the union collects more than Sh100million monthly, but some MPs said the figure was higher.
Mr Melly also accused the union of complaining about the way teachers are promoted by the TSC under the career progression policy.
“We’re questioning your ability to represent teachers. How do you complain yet you signed the comprehensive bargaining agreement (CBA) on behalf of the teachers? Why did you sign a document that has inconsistencies that disadvantage so many teachers?
This union has let down teachers yet they collect money from them,”he said. He ordered the union’s leaders to appear before the committee in a week and present a list of its members, income and expenditure.
They were also asked to provide a list of teachers who had been promoted but whose salaries had not been increased, as well as teachers who had been transferred from primary to junior schools.
In response to the petition, Mr Otieno told the committee that about 1,000 teachers were interviewed for senior graduate teacher positions and were subsequently posted as head teachers under job group M (renamed C5), but their salaries and allowances were not adjusted.
Some teachers were posted as deputy head teachers, while others remained as senior teachers and classroom teachers. Mr Otieno argued that the teachers should have been transferred to group D1 when they were posted as head teachers, but this did not happen. Some senior graduate teachers serving as head teachers are in Group D1 while others with the same qualifications are in Group C5.
“This is a group of teachers with the same qualifications, same job group before CBA, are performing same roles and facing the same challenges yet earn different salaries and allowances contrary to part II section 5 of the Labor Relations Act of 2007,” Mr Otieno said.