Kenya

Court blocks TSC from terminating deal with Knut

Court blocks TSC from terminating deal with Knut
  • Dr Nancy Macharia, the TSC chief executive, has written to the 60-year-old union notifying it of intention to “revoke the recognition agreement” in two months.
  • She says Knut does not have the majority of teachers employed by the TSC in its register and therefore cannot be recognised as a union.

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) plan to severe ties with Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has suffered a blow.

This is after Labour court Judge Maureen Onyango suspended move by TSC to terminate its 51-year-old agreement with Knut until case is heard and determined.

Knut has sued TSC chief executive officer Nancy Macharia and the commission for issuing the notice on November 4.

Justice Onyango also fixed the hearing of the case on December 11 with Knut expected to file responses to preliminary objections within   seven days from the date of service by the Dr Macharia and TSC.

“That in the meantime, the notice of termination ins suspended pending hearing and determination of the preliminary objection,” ordered Justice Onyango.

In the notice, TSC argues that Knut does not have the simple majority of unionisable employees under the employment of the Commission.

The commission further quoted section 54(1) of the Labour Relations Act on the Recognition of Trade Unions and Collective Agreement which states that:

"An employer, including an employer in the public sector, shall recognise a trade union for purposes of collective bargaining if that trade union represents the simple majority of unionisable employees," said TSC.

The commission said it considered section 54(5) of the Labour Relations Act which states that:

However, on Sunday, in a paid advertisement in local dailies, Dr Macharia said the commission recognises teachers’ unions as key stakeholders in the profession and the critical role they play in representing tutors.

“Initially, TSC had unstructured relationships with the unions. It was not until 2016 that TSC made a fundamental decision to sign collective bargaining agreements with the unions,” said Dr Macharia.

She added that in its engagement with the union, TSC operates strictly within the legal provisions.

“Any action initiated by the commission is done after careful thought, review, in good faith and in strict conformity with the law. We wish to clarify that under the law, TSC has no power to register or deregister a union as that is the mandate of the registrar of trade unions,” said Dr Macharia.

She said that, for a recognition agreement between an employer and a union to be sustained, certain minimum requirements must  met, failing which, the employer will hold on to all dues payable to such a body.

“Further, the process leading to revocation of a recognition agreement is elaborate and intricate. It starts with issuance of notice of intention and culminates in the decision reached by the National Labour board.

“Parties involved still have an opportunity for conciliation and ultimately, judicial adjudication. This process is succinctly provided for in the by the law,” the TSC boss said.