Kenya: Shock for KNUT as Thousands of Members Miss Out on Pay Rise

Thousands of teachers are reeling in shock after their employer denied them promotions and a salary raise for the second year running, citing their membership to the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).

Their counterparts, who ditched the giant union led by Wilson Sossion, after it clashed with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) last year, are celebrating after receiving fatter pay cheques this month.

Some 47,131 teachers in job group B5 have been promoted to job group C1 using TSC's Career Progression Guidelines (CPG) even as 32,556 of their counterparts missed out after TSC said they fall under the Schemes of Service because they are members of Knut.

PREFERRED PROMOTION PATH

Schemes of Service, contained in the Code of Regulations and Code of Conduct and Ethics for Teachers, is the preferred promotion path of Mr Sossion's Knut, but it is frowned upon by TSC.

It is this disagreement on promotions that has soured relations between TSC and Knut, and teachers seem to be the pawns in the high-stakes battle.

TSC communication director Beatrice Wababu yesterday revealed that a further 32,041 teachers in Job group B5 did not qualify for promotion.

The commission was expected to promote more than 100,000 teachers in Job group B5, who were previously P1 teachers, and automatically move them to Job Grade C1.

PROMOTED TEACHERS

The teachers promoted under the CPG are either Kuppet members or do not belong to any union, while those who have been left out belong to Knut.

The promotions and salary increases are the final fulfilment of the Sh54 billion collective bargaining agreement signed by the two unions and the teachers' employer.

The CBA had been spread over four years, with its execution starting on July 2017 and its fourth and final phase in July this year.

The promoted grade B5 teachers, who have been earning a basic salary of between Sh21,756 and Sh27,195, have this month taken home between Sh27,195 and Sh33,994.

More than 5,000 secondary school teachers who hold diplomas and are in the same job group also benefited. Teachers in grades B5 and C1 teach in primary schools.

ENHANCED SALARIES

Secondary school teachers who are members Kuppet and who hold administrative positions -- including chief principals, senior principals, principals, deputies, head teachers, deputy head teachers and senior teachers -- also received enhanced salaries, leaving out their counterparts who have signed up with Knut.

Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion accused TSC of managing teachers through "blackmail and corruption" as he called for adherence to strict terms of the code of regulations, the TSC Act and the CBA.

"The illegal, discriminative and blatant abuse of teachers' constitutional rights is the highest form of unfair labour practice that violates all ILO conventions, standards and treaties," he said.

"The aim is to permanently kill Knut and silence its members once and for all."

NO TO BLACKMAIL

Mr Sossion said the union will never be silenced through blackmail of its members from effectively performing its labour mandate.

"We shall give proper direction in due course, but urge our members to remain calm since the money has been appropriated by Parliament to pay all teachers," he said.

The varied treatment in the award of salary increments started last year when TSC left 103,634 teachers out of the scheme.

It further threatened to recover the benefits the teachers had enjoyed since 2017.

The decision followed a contested interpretation of a court ruling in a case TSC had filed against Knut to forestall a teachers' strike.

Although the Employment and Labour Relations Court ruled in favour of Knut, its members have lost financially.

This caused an exodus of teachers from Knut to Kuppet between last July and June this year, as others opted to remain unionless.

KUPPET MEMBERS

A source at the TSC Tuesday said teachers who ditched Knut and joined Kuppet have received a salary increment under the CPGs.

It was, however, not possible to immediately get the details of those that have been left in the cold.

The source also revealed the commission "is cleansing the system", after collecting the correct data of school administrators. Full details will be given once the process is concluded.

TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia had in June ordered a headcount of head teachers, their deputies and senior teachers.

In her directive, she said TSC did not have an accurate number and that some teachers were promoted by mistake after county directors provided wrong information in 2017.

The circular sent to the TSC county directors also showed that some classroom teachers were given grades reserved for institutional administrators, while teachers serving as deputies were wrongly captured as head teachers.

DITCHED KNUT

Several principals and teachers who spoke to the Nation Tuesday revealed that they had been factored in this month's pay rise after ditching the giant union.

"I have endured for a whole year but I decided to ditch Knut and joined Kuppet so that I can benefit. This month I received my pay rise," said a principal in Kisii.

Another teacher in Makueni said she had been a member of Knut for years, but also left the union to avoid losing out.

"I prefer to be unionless than to be a member of Knut and yet I'm not benefiting," she said.

Since July 2019, Knut has lost up to Sh1 billion in union dues which has crippled its operations. Prior to the dispute, it used to rake in about Sh143 million monthly.

A credible source revealed that in July and August last year, TSC did not release the union dues.

In September, Knut received Sh81 million, October (Sh79 million), November (Sh73 million) while in December the commission did not remit the union funds.

This year, the money sent to the union has been decreasing every month. In January it received Sh67 million, February (Sh65 million) and Sh62 million in March. In April, TSC forwarded Sh59 million to Knut, Sh56 million in May, while in June, the union received Sh52 million.

Mr Sossion revealed that in this year's July pay roll, Knut membership has dropped to 74,000, down from 80,000 in the month of June.

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