Kenya: Cotu Wades Into Pay Dispute Between Teachers and TSC

The umbrella trade unions' agency has waded into the controversy over the teachers' payroll and called for an urgent meeting to resolve the salary dispute.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) Wednesday wrote to Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui, asking him to convene a meeting to discuss discriminatory promotions and salary increase by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

The meeting will bring together Cotu, TSC and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), whose members were denied promotions and fatter pay cheques this month.

In the letter, Cotu Secretary-General Francis Atwoli expressed worry over the worsening industrial dispute between Knut and TSC, which he should be resolved once and for all.

"Indeed, if left unaddressed, the situation is likely to degenerate into a serious threat to the country's industrial peace," Mr Atwoli added.

STOP UNNECESSARY CONFUSION

At the same time, Knut Wednesday asked the TSC to stop sowing unnecessary confusion on the execution of the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) pay structure by seeking to abolish the recognition of teachers' new academic qualifications.

Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion said attempting to abolish the Schemes of Service as the basis for promotion is an attempt to abolish recognition of new academic qualifications, which teachers have attained after spending a lot of their resources on studies.

"The commission should not sneak in the Career Progression Guidelines, which have been nullified by the Employment and Labour Relations Court, but should promote teachers using the Code of Regulations for Teachers," he told reporters Wednesday at the Knut headquarters in Nairobi.

Mr Sossion said the commission was given Sh54 billion to pay all teachers and increase their salaries, but has been using illegal ways to discriminate against Knut members.

KNUT MEMBERS ELIGIBLE

"Knut members are eligible to salary increment and promotions based on our signed CBA," he said.

Knut treasurer John Matiang'i said the fight between the TSC and the union should not involve teachers.

"It is so heart-breaking to see innocent teachers suffering and being discriminated against by the employer who is using illegal documents," he said.

Mr Matiang'i called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to convene a meeting between the two parties. He also accused TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia of plotting to kill Knut by aiding the formation of splinter unions.

"We cannot have an employer who uses bloggers to incite teachers to leave Knut and cripple operations of the union," said Mr Matiang'i. At the time of signing the CBA, Mr Sossion said only the Schemes of Service existed, but TSC developed the Career Progression Guidelines independently and started implementing them illegally.

The schemes of service are provided for in the Teachers' Code of Regulations and cited in the CBA. According to the regulations, teachers should be promoted on merit and ability as reflected in their work, performance and results.

The commission is also required to consider the period of time served by the teacher and their academic qualifications.

The union and the commission had agreed that career progression be implemented as provided for under the codes of regulations at the signing of the CBA.

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