Unions and TSC launch talks as teachers push for a salary raise

Unions have held initial talks with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in their push for a review of the 2021-2025 collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to allow for an increase in salaries.

Newszetu has established that the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) last week separately met with the TSC in Nakuru County to initiate talks.

A senior official who attended the meeting said the parties have only made proposals to kick-start the negotiations.

While Knut is pushing for a 60 percent pay rise, Kuppet is demanding a 42 percent increase.

The CBA signed between the two unions and TSC in 2021 did not have a monetary component as the country still was recovering from the global economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Knut Secretary-General Collins Oyuu and Kuppet National Deputy Treasurer Ronald Tonui said teachers are facing tough economic times as the employer had failed to increase their salaries in the past seven years.

“We sat as the Knut National Steering Council and agreed to push for a 60 percent salary increase for teachers,” said Mr Oyuu, who was flanked by officials from 32 branches countrywide during the Bomet Knut branch annual general meeting (AGM) at Fair Hills Hotel.

Mr Oyuu said the 2021-25 CBA was not cast in stone and was open to review by both parties.

“We have commenced discussions with the TSC on the review of the 2021-2025 CBA, which was non-monetary, and we are confident that we will reach an agreement that is workable for all parties,” Mr Oyuu said.

Under his leadership, he said, Knut would not encourage strikes to press for salary increases as had happened in the past.

“What teachers need is to be treated with dignity, to have their issues addressed by the employer and stakeholders. As a union, we cannot ask teachers to demonstrate on the streets when their issues can be dealt with diplomatically and amicably by the employer and the unions,” said Mr Oyuu.

The unions also called for the suspension of the three per cent housing levy proposed in the Finance Bill, 2023.

Mr Oyuu and Mr Tonui said imposing a housing levy on teachers and other workers who are poorly paid without increasing their salaries was not well thought out and the policy should be urgently reviewed.

Mr Tonui and Kuppet Bomet branch secretary Paul Kimetto said the CBA should be renegotiated to pave way for an increase before the three per cent housing levy on salaries is approved and implemented.

“There needs to be a round-table discussion to address the issue of teachers’ salaries as they are now a very demoralised lot who are also burdened by a huge workload due to the shortage [of teachers] against a sharp increase in enrolment in both primary and secondary schools,” Mr Tonui said.

He added that teachers had not received any increase in their salaries despite the harsh economic times, while other cadres of workers, both in the government and the private sector, had received annual salary increases from their employers.

“We support the government of the day, but when a proposed policy is not popular with the people and workers, it is our duty to point it out so that it can be corrected,” said Mr Tonui.

The unionists said the 7.5 per cent deduction from teachers’ salaries under the Public Service Superannuation Scheme was a burden to teachers and that implementation of the housing fund levy would further affect their pay.

“This is a matter we are appealing to the government and President William Ruto to consider so that teachers who are performing a noble service of moulding the manpower to take charge of the socio-economic development of this great country can feel appreciated,” Mr Tonui said.

Hammered out

The unionists expressed confidence that an agreement with the TSC would be hammered out in the coming days.

President Ruto’s administration is pushing for the deduction of three percent of salaries for all workers to go towards the proposed Sh3.6 billion National Housing Development Fund.

The proposed levy has kicked up a storm among workers, even though Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary-General Francis Atwoli has come out to support it.

In the 2023/2024 Budget Policy Statement, the TSC has been allocated Sh322 billion. Part of the money will go towards addressing a teacher shortage in schools.

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