The conflict between the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) is set to escalate after the union yesterday challenged the legality of the notice issued by TSC to terminate their strained industrial relations.
In a reply to the TSC letter, Knut termed the move “not only illegal and unconstitutional but is a fulfilment of the ill interests from your end”.
Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion also disputed that the union membership does not constitute a simple majority, which formed the basis of the notice by TSC to abrogate the agreement signed by the two parties in 1968.
“It’s a provocation laced with malice. We’ll not allow that letter to exist,” he told the Nation on phone, saying the letter is an escapist strategy to avoid engaging the union.
He argued that the minimum percentage only applies to new applications for recognition and that the status of Knut as a trade union representing teachers cannot be revoked “even if the membership is 10 per cent” of the teaching force.
In the letter to the commission, Mr Sossion asked for a meeting next week to discuss urgent pending teachers’ issues, including negotiation on a new collective bargaining agreement.
He said the union had 187,000 members and not the 115,000 given by the commission. If TSC actualises its intention, thousands of teachers, especially in primary schools, would be left in a union that cannot negotiate for their welfare, effectively killing one of Kenya’s strongest trade unions in history.
Mr Sossion, who is also an ODM nominated member of Parliament, claimed that an amendment Bill to the TSC Act that he has drafted has been approved by the Speaker of the National Assembly.
In it, he seeks to have the chairperson of the commission and commissioners elected, through voting, by the teachers. However, the Bill is not available on the Parliamentary Bill Tracker last updated on Friday, October 18.
He argued that this would be in line with the practice in other independent commissions such as the Judicial Service Commission, in which members elect their representative, through the Law Society of Kenya.
“We created a commission without proper structures of operationalisation,” he said.