The Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has come out to protest the silence from the teachers’ employer over the 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). With the current CBA expiring at the end of June, 2021, the union is yet to sign a new salary hike agreement with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).
Kuppet now arrays fears over the Commission’s failure to provide a salary counter offer.
The union says delays by TSC to conclude the salary talks is causing anxiety among teachers.
“I am writing to express our concern at the Commission’s delay in concluding the negotiations for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). With the expiry of the current CBA imminent, the union is yet to receive a counter offer to our demand, as per the laid down process.” Reads a memo to TSC by Kuppet Secretary General Akello Misori and dated 19th May, 2021.
Akello says all that remained in the negotiations was for the Salaries and Remuneration Commission to give its Advisory to the Commission to enable the employer to table a counter offer to the union.
“While this has not been done, the media space has been filled with speculative coverage about what the SRC Advisory contained.” Adds Misori.
The Commission in its response, said they acknowledged receipt of the Kuppet memo. TSC, in their response remained non committal as to when the salary negotiations would be completed.
“The Commission has duly noted your sentiments on the above subject matter which we concur are very valid. I wish to assure that the Commission is taking all the steps to ensure that the matter is addressed in the shortest time possible.” Reads the response by Commission Boss Dr. Nancy Macharia.
The Commission had earlier on kick started the process of signing of the new CBA. And, in fact, TSC and Kuppet met between 29th and 31st October, 2019 at Sawela Lodge in Naivasha.
“Due to the urgent need to commence the journey towards the finalization of the 2021-2025 CBA, the Commission has decided to initiate the process as early as possible to give parties sufficient time to negotiate and conclude the 2021-2025 СВА.” Dr. Macharia had informed Kuppet.
Kuppet responded, immediately, by submitting its salary increment proposals to the Commission. In the proposals, classroom teachers were to benefit more than administrators; with the latter having received hefty salary increments in the current CBA.
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But, this whole process is in limbo as no agreements have been reached, so far, with few days to the expiry of the current CBA.
Kuppet top brass says, two weeks ago, the union protested to the Teachers Service Commission, the Treasury and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission over the delay in concluding a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for teachers.
Essentially, the feedback we received from the TSC alarmed the union. All the TSC did was to agree with their concern, without addressing it in any way.
The union is concerned with the government’s indifference to the process has caused intense anxiety and tension in the teaching fraternity.
“As a union, we have diligently discharged our obligations under the Labour Relations Act, but the government has been dragging its feet in the talks for more than a year. During the period, we have been waiting for a counter offer from the employer to our demands. We were made to believe that the TSC was waiting for an Advisory from the Salaries Commission before giving the counter offer.” Reads the latest presser by Kuppet.
The union now has discovered that TSC has not shared its perspectives with them, let alone table a counter offer.
“Recently, the media has been awash with speculation as to what the (SRC) advisory contained. Even more cynically, teachers have been treated to what appears to be a carefully choreographed coverage in the press insinuating that the government will not provide any funds for a new CBA this year.” Misori complains.
The Kuppet Boss says the media coverage has blamed COVID-19, economic recession and other factors for the government’s alleged inability to pay new salaries to teachers.
“These are, of course, mere excuses, since none of the factors have impugned the government’s capacity. Moreover, lessons from around the world indicate that public sector remuneration reviews can stimulate post- pandemic economic recovery.” Misori says.
He says, teachers expect nothing short of a salary review this year adding that the teachers’ workload has risen sharply under the CBC.
The government has already raised the salaries for cadres like MCAs and administrative officers who are already so handsomely remunerated, without any demand from them.
TSC proposals rejected
Reports indicate that the TSC salary hike proposals were rejected by the government.
In the proposals, the Commission wanted a basic salary increment of between 16 percent and 32 percent; with classroom teachers getting the higher perks.
The 16 percent rise in basic pay should have been for teachers in administrative grades (C4 to D5) who reaped big from the 2016-2021 CBA. Classroom teachers in lower grades (B5 to C3) were to be awarded an increment of 30 percent.
But, the teachers’ unions ,Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET), vehemently opposed to the proposals terming them a drop in the ocean. The unions claimed there were no talks between them and TSC to come up with the new salary scales; as should be the case during the CBA negotiations.
KNUT then proposed a basic pay rise of between 120 and 200 percent, while KUPPET wanted 30 to 70 percent increment.
For allowances, TSC proposed a 20 percent increment in commuter and leave allowances. On its part, house allowance was to be increased by 10 percent. These proposals were by far much lower than what the unions were proposing.
DEMANDS BY KUPPET.
KUPPET was rooting for the expansion of teachers’ allowances so as to include post graduate and township allowances (meant for teachers staying in towns). The union also wanted the Commission to harmonize house allowances for all teachers.
Currently, tutors plying their trade in towns and former municipalities earn higher house allowances as opposed to their counterparts in rural areas. According to Kuppet, harmonization of house allowances should be based on job group as opposed to regions.
Another allowance being fronted by KUPPET was special school allowance to be paid at a rate of Sh15,000 per month.
They also wanted the readers’ facilitation allowance to be reviewed by 30 percent so as the teachers will get Sh.19,500 per month. This allowance is paid to a visually impaired teacher who has engaged a reader whose minimum qualification is not below KCSE D+/KCE Division III. The allowance is paid at a fixed rate determined from time to time by the commission.
Also called facilitation or aid allowance, reader’s allowance is currently paid at a rate of Sh15,000 per month to the blind teachers and those confined to wheel chairs by virtue of their disability.
Still on allowances, KUPPET demanded that leave allowance be paid based on one’s basic pay i.e. an equivalent of one month’s basic pay for all cadres.
KUPPET said the Commission had no scheme of service for teachers who have attained a Masters and Doctorate degrees. Instead, the employer awards three increments to the holders of such qualifications. The proposed scheme seeked to allow TSC recruit teachers possessing post-graduate qualifications at entry level.
The Union demanded that the Post graduate scheme of service be developed and be eligible to all teachers holding a Master’s and Doctorate degree. The said teachers shall then be paid an allowance equivalent to 40% of the basic salary.
Finer details showed that the union was seeking to have a holder of Masters Degree getting an increment of 20 percent that was to be pegged on the basic salary and 40 percent for PHD degree holders.
TSC OFFER ON ALLOWANCES
The Commission was willing to offer an increase of 20 percent for both commuter and leave allowances. It was also keen to retain the current clusters used to determine the teachers’ house allowances but review them upwards by 10 percent.
Also to be retained was to be hardship allowance at the current rates.
Proposals by KUPPET to have the TSC introduce new allowances have fell on deaf ears. The Commission declined the introduction of special school, township and post graduate allowances.
The above proposals are said to have been thrown under the carpet by the Government; sighting hard economic times. The Government is already grappling with a bloated wage bill.
In other news
Away from a new CBA, KUPPET Kuppet promises to press for the release of funds for the third and fourth phase for more than 3,800 teachers under the current agreement.
The teachers, who were transferred from TSC to the Public Service Commission, benefited from the first and second phases of the CBA before their transfer to the Public Service Commission; and under the Ministry of Education.
It remains to be seen if TSC will yield to Kuppet’s demands with time for signing of a new CBA running out.