Kenya: Teachers Who Ditched KNUT to Pay Agency Fee

Non-unionisable teachers will this month begin paying an agency fee for enjoying the benefits of negotiated deals, such as salary increases and other perks.

There are over 190,000 tutors in primary and secondary schools who are not affiliated to any union but still enjoy their services, including the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

This offers the financially troubled Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) hope for survival as it has not been receiving agency fees since June 2019 when it fell out with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

It will now bank on the non-unionisable members to fund its operations, which have been crippled due to lack of cash.

The Labour Relations Act of 2007 provides that employees who are not members of a trade union, but are benefiting from terms of employment negotiated by the body in a CBA, be deducted an agency fee.

The Knut constitution requires all teachers who are not its members to pay an agency fee of 2 per cent of their basic salary to enjoy the benefits of a negotiated CBA.

The deductions will be a big blow to the 172,000 members who left the union due to its bad relationship with TSC. Knut secretary-general Collins Oyuu urged them to rejoin and enjoy all negotiated benefits.

"Agency fee is a requirement of the Labour Act, 2007 and because we are in the process of mending our relationship with the TSC, teachers should rejoin Knut or any other union if they don't want to be charged the fee," said Mr Oyuu.

The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Teachers (Kuppet) constitution states that any tutor under TSC, who is not their member, should be charged an agency fee of 1.8 per cent of their basic salary.

Kuppet secretary-general Akelo Misori said all non-unionisable teachers in secondary schools and colleges are obligated by law to pay an agency fee.

"As a union, we have been receiving agency fee of all the 3,000 teachers in secondary schools who are non-unionisable because they benefit from our CBAs," said Mr Misori.

Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet), which signed a CBA for the first time with the TSC last week, will charge non-members an agency fee of 1.45 per cent of their basic salary.

Kusnet secretary-general James Torome said once the 2021-2025 CBA is registered in court, all special needs teachers who have not yet joined the union will have to pay an agency fee of 1.45 per cent.

"Our union is quite new and therefore this is the first time we will be charging an agency fee to the remaining 7,000 teachers who are yet to join us," he said.

TSC has employed 330,671 teachers, of which 112,000 are in secondary schools while the rest are in primary. Kuppet has 109,000 members, Kusnet 8,000 and Knut has just 15,000, down from 187,000 in June 2019. This means that 198,671 teachers are non-unionisable.

There are also about 7,000 special needs teachers who will be paying the agency fee for the first time.

Going by the percentages, the lowest paid teacher in job group B5, who earns a basic salary of between Sh21, 756 and Sh27, 195, will be charged an agency fee of between 445.12 and Sh543.9 monthly.

The highest paid teacher in job group D5, chief principals who earn between Sh131, 380 and Sh157, 068, will be charged an agency fee of between Sh2, 627.6 and Sh3141.36.

The TSC reopened their portal this month to enable teachers to rejoin unions of their choice.

Knut recruits teachers from both primary and secondary schools, Kuppet from post-primary education institutions, while Kusnet members are from special needs facilities.

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