Kenya: Unions Spurn TSC 'Sinister' Proposals for Pay Increase

15 October 2020

Teachers' unions have rejected a proposed basic salary increment of between 16 and 32 per cent, terming the offer premature.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had also recommended an increment of up to 20 per cent for commuter, leave and house allowances in proposals submitted to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), which the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) flatly spurned, accusing the TSC of subverting the pay talks.

The unions said the TSC sneaked a counter-offer to the SRC that rejected their push for special school, township and post graduate allowances. Union leaders accused TSC of acting in bad faith, arguing, the proper process required that the teacher's employer submits the counter-offer to a forum where unions were represented for discussions.

TSC's proposals are way below the hefty perks both unions have demanded separately in the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will be implemented in July next year.

The move is likely to widen the rift that has existed between TSC and Knut over the implementation 2017-2021 CBA.

According to the law, unions ought to have begun negotiations with the commission to finalise the new CBA, which will run between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2023.

Both Knut and Kuppet submitted their proposals for the new CBA to TSC late last year, but negotiations were held back due to the outbreak of Covid-19.

The move by the commission to sneak the counter-proposal to the SRC before discussing with unions is likely to cause a major clash, which could precipitate a strike.

Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion declined to comment on the issue, while Kuppet boss Akelo Misori, said they cannot take directions from the SRC before holding talks with the employer.

"Negotiations have not begun. We saw a notification from the SRC trying to jump-start the negotiations, but we can't take directions from them. We're waiting for a communication from the TSC," Mr Misori said.

Knut and Kuppet officials made calls to start negotiations during the World Teacher's Day celebrations last week.

By law, TSC is supposed to appoint a 10-member committee that includes five members each from unions and commissioners for the negotiations. The committee is led by an independent chair and a secretary.

It's through this committee that unions submit their offers for discussion, after which the TSC makes a counter offer. Thereafter, the counter-offer is presented to SRC, which advises the unions and TSC before signing the CBA.

Act in good faith

Nandi senator Samson Cherargey said that, if the claims are true, then the TSC has violated the main principles in the mediation and negotiations, rendering the process null and void.

"The process is null and void as it undermines the spirit of negotiations," Mr Cherargey said.

He urged the TSC to always act in good faith where teachers' issues are concerned.

In the leaked counter offer presented to SRC [and] seen by the Nation, TSC has proposed a basic salary increment of 16 percent for teachers in Grades C4 to D5 and a 32 per cent pay rise for teachers in Grades B5 to Grade C3 in the four-year period.

Job Grade B5 are primary school educator II, Grade C1 primary teacher II, secondary teacher II and lecturer III, Grade C2 and C3 are teachers in secondary schools. Job Group C4 and C5 are senior teachers and masters, some deputy head teachers are also in these job groups.

Those in job Grade D1 to D3 are deputy principals III, curriculum support officers, senior head educators and principals. Job Grade D4 are senior principals while D5 are chief principals.

Knut wants the basic pay raised by between 120 per cent and 200 per cent. Kuppet proposes a basic salary increment of between 30 per cent and 70 per cent.

On allowances, TSC has indicated that, it will reject Knut and Kuppet's 50 per cent and 70 per cent proposed increments on commuter allowance.

TSC has offered a 20 per cent increment on leave allowance instead of the proposal by unions of one month basic salary. TSC has also declined Kuppet's proposal for special school teachers to be paid Sh15, 000 allowance.

House allowances

The commission has proposed that house allowances be increased by 10 per cent and current clusters be retained.

Knut wants the house allowances raised by 50 per cent and Kuppet wants all teachers paid Nairobi rates. TSC has also rejected Kuppet's demand for a township allowance of between Sh4,000 and Sh8,000. The commission has further resisted the unions' push for an increment in hardship allowance by 50 per cent of basic salary (Knut) and 50 per cent increment (Kuppet).

Instead, TSC has proposed that hardship allowance be retained at current rates, but comprehensive review be undertaken.

The commission has also rejected a demand by Kuppet for a 20 per cent basic salary increment for master's degree graduates and 40 per cent for PhD holders. The unions have demanded hefty basic pay increments for their members.

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