Free our slips from union agency fees: Teachers warn both TSC and the unions

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In statements laced with varied sentiments, ranging from disgruntlement to unadulterated displeasure, teachers quickly took to available platforms to echo their protests at their employers (Teachers Service Commission) persistence at subjecting them to torturous deductions of the unions agency fees.

From a social media platform, a tutor observes, “It is disturbing to say the least that the commission moves to subject us to forced deductions. Agency fees today, tomorrow it’s hiked BBF by the sacco.., our slips require some breathing space.”

According to most teachers, their employer, TSC has stubbornly clung to a decision to deduct from their salaries agency fees for an agreement that in their view isn’t monetary attractive

This locking of horns between the teachers and their employer traces its birth back to when Primary schools tutors who are not members of Knut were subjected to forced union agency fees deductions in the month of August. This attracted mixed reactions as a number of teachers threatened to quit the said teachers union.

About150,000 primary school teachers were treated to a rude shock following the agency fees deductions from their slips even though they had exited the union much earlier, precisely, June 2019. This was with the hope of getting salary increments and possible promotions. Teacher who had not joined the unions were equally not exempted from the deductions.

When contacted, the union boss, Mr. Hezbon Otieno who is the deputy KNUT secretary-general confirmed the deduction of agency fee saying, the deductions were effected in August, last month’s salary. Kenya National Union Of Teachers members dropped drastically from 187,000 to about 15,000 by June this year. This was however attributed to union’s leadership ill relationship with both the Ministry of Education and Teachers Service Commission.

“The deductions were effected needless to deny. And this, I am aware that the primary school teachers were affected even though they are not members of the union.” Said Mr. Otieno.

It has however emerged that the agency fee is so crucial for the new Kenya union of Teachers’ leadership, knut appeared keen on restoring the relationship with the employer of teachers, TsC.

Knut was known to receive about Sh144 million monthly at the end of every month from TSC as union dues. However, this dropped to less than Sh20 million thus making union officials such as executive secretaries and union staff to forfeit their months salaries. In the previous month, Knut and TSC signed an agreement concerning demarcation of membership, this compelled Knut against representing post-primary teachers.

In the agreement, it is emerges that the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet) should represent teachers from the secondary schools section whereas teachers with special needs are represented by Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet) must enjoy representing teachers in special needs schools. The CBAs that were to address concerns bets 2021_2025 were then deposited in the Labour Relations Court on Friday last week making them legal documents. However, teachers protested the CBAs citing they did not address their monetary concerns.

Teachers living with disability are covered by an outfit, Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet), teachers are strongly pushing through online platforms to put a stop to the deductions. They urge teachers to click “stop” button on union deductions from the Tpay to quit.

A new kid on the block, National Education Union (Kenya) deeply beseeches that teachers popularize and join their sister union whose agenda was done in the past month of June, we are patient to have its registration done by the Registrar on Trade Unions. Mr Peter Bosire and Mr David Musembei, among other founding teachers, are strongly and ably behind the union.

“We are keen on this, national Education Union NEU is set to register more than 300,000 teachers in this country, service is what is at the heart of teachers” Our clients report. So stated in parts, the letter from NEU’s advocate Mr Salim Omar. NEU thus seriously seeks to be issued with a certificate of registration as enshrined in the labour relations Act No.14 of 2007.

Unions have, especially Knut, charged 2% of basic salary as the agency fee, their sister union Kuppet charges 1.8 % and lastly, Kusnet (for teachers with special needs) charges 1.45 per cent.

Mr James Torome, the secretary general, Kusnet, reiterated that nothing would stop their union from receiving agency fees from none members since they benefit from the just signed CBA. It’s therefore, legally sane.

It appears recently that the courts have not interfered with the unions and their deductions since a Court in Kisumu did not recently stop the deductions through a court orders as was pleaded by some two tutors who filled a case against Tsc and the unions. The case still pends in court.

 

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