NAIROBI, Kenya, July 15 – The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) has issued a seven-day ultimatum to Education Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi to reconstitute the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) failure to which they will mobilise teachers to strike.
Secretary General Wilson Sossion explained that the positions of five commissioners, including the chairman remain vacant and have continued to impact negatively on the country’s education standards.
“In the event of the Commissioners’ offices remaining vacant after the expiry of the next seven days, teachers will have no choice but to declare a trade dispute.
“This is the biggest affront to our rights. It is more dangerous than salary fights. If this is not done within the next seven days after the declaration, we shall declare a trade dispute in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Relations Act,” he said.
He demanded that the Education Secretary take immediate measures to ensure that the vacant offices of the commissioners and the chair are filled.
Sossion indicated that the vacuum has resulted in poor service delivery as teachers’ discipline cases are taking as long as sixteen months to be heard due to the shortage of commissioners.
“This matter shall escalate into a strike as shall be directed and as provided for in our KNUT constitution. So everyone concerned should be warned,” he stated.
He however denied reports that there is conflict between the ministry and union.
“KNUT takes this opportunity to inform all concerned stakeholders that teachers are involved in the ongoing preparations of the code of regulations for teachers (CORT) and reiterated that all provisions are limited to the constitutional functions of the commission,” he stated.
“For avoidance of doubt, we emphasize that as far as teachers are concerned, the discipline of all registered teachers and the quality and assurance of teaching services are all duties of the TSC.”
He further pointed out that its mandate includes capacity building of teachers in service and recruitment of all teachers who serve in all public institutions offering basic education.
“Registration of all teachers who offer teaching services in any institutions offering basic education. In the performance of its functions, the commission has the responsibility to devolve its functions hence the appointment of the TSC county director,” Sossion stated.
“To KNUT, conflict with the Ministry of Education is only imaginary and can only be inferred by a cheeky mind,” he stressed.
He was responding to a letter written to the Attorney General by the chair person of the national education board which dwelled on the functions that are constitutionally allocated to the TSC.
“Our concern is the manner in which the chairperson of the education board has initiated what we perceive to be an onslaught on the teachers’ rights to an independent and constitutional employer,” he stated.
His sentiments were echoed by the National Chairman Mudzo Nzili who stated that
“We want to tell the chairman of the national education board that what he is doing is not within his mandate. If he is being sent and used by other people he should know that we shall begin with him and end with him,” he said. “If there are forces telling him to behave like this because they want to control the TSC, we shall not remain silent.”