Kenya

Ruling on guidelines for teachers' career growth divides rival unions

Ruling on guidelines for teachers' career growth divides rival unions
  • TSC directed to ensure alignment of schemes of service to the pay deal in a contested ruling.
  • This comes just days after the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) won a case against career progression guidelines introduced by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

  • Kuppet Secretary-General Akello Misori said the court ignored other parties in the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement negotiations three years ago.

The Friday ruling by the Labour Court setting aside career progression guidelines has sharply divided the two main teachers unions in the country.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) threatened to take matters to court.

This comes just days after the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) won a case against career progression guidelines introduced by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

Kuppet Secretary-General Akello Misori said the court ignored other parties in the 2017-21 collective bargaining agreement negotiations three years ago.

“Should the commission in complying with the ruling tamper with the gains our members realised in the 2016 CBA — especially the Sh54 billion already allocated for promotions — we will employ all measures available to us, including court action to stop it,” Mr Misori said at a press conference in Nairobi yesterday.

TSC said the ruling means it may recall the enhanced July salaries programmed to be paid as phase two of the CBA.

In the 2017-21 deal, more than 160,000 teachers holding administrative positions were to receive new salaries in the second phase of the Sh54 billion agreement signed between the commission and the two unions.

The main beneficiaries would have been principals, chief principals, headteachers, their deputies and senior teachers.

TSC lead lawyer Timon Oyucho said the ruling has also affected plans for headteachers, deputies and principals to fill at least 5,000 vacancies.

Kuppet members were the most affected by the ruling, Mr Misori said.

Justice Byram Ongaya set aside the performance-based career progression frameworks for teacher management and remuneration.

PROMOTIONS

He also stopped execution of performance appraisal tools. This means teachers will now be promoted on the basis of competitive interviews as laid out in the TSC code of regulations.

“In a strict sense, some of the orders issued by the court have the potential to roll back the CBAs that govern remuneration and career progression,” Mr Misori said.

The court ordered the commission to revert to the pre-2016 management framework when the current CBAs were signed.

The TSC was also directed to ensure the alignment of the schemes of service to the current CBAs.

Knut wants teachers’ promotions to be based on merit, professional qualifications, academic, vacancies, and seniority, among others.

The union argues that more than 50,000 teachers have acquired higher education qualifications, but have not been promoted since 2014.

Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has since asked the TSC to call for a meeting to discuss the implementation of the ruling.

“Knut is ready to sit with the TSC,” he said on Monday.

Kuppet, on the other hand, backs the guidelines quashed by the court.

According to Kuppet, the current CBA overhauled the old teacher management frameworks in favour of the career progression model.

TAMPERING

Mr Misori said the CBA also stopped teacher stagnation, “which had reached crisis levels before 2016”.

“The CBA has made it easy for teachers to progress to higher job groups quickly, depending on their qualifications and performance,” Mr Misori said.

Won’t condone tampering

“Our letter to the TSC made it clear that since we were not party to the case, we will not condone any tampering with terms and conditions of service our members enjoy.”

Kuppet wants TSC to exclude their members from the ruling arguing that they were not party to the case.

“Our position is that the judgment should not affect our CBA with TSC; indeed, having entered a Recognition Agreement and negotiated a CBA with Kuppet, the Commission should not misdirect itself and take measures that can prejudice the interest of our members,” read the letter.

Mr Misori said that Kuppet members support the career progression guidelines as was set by TSC and said they will not agree to sign another CBA.