A group of teachers hired union officials, demanding their resignation for failing to represent the interests of members.
The group claims that the leadership of the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) is made up of politicians and retirees, while that of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) is compromised.
Kenya National Teachers Pressure Group spokeswoman Martha Omollo said officials at Kuppet and Knut had failed to protect members of the “punitive” teacher professional development (TPD) program, a program that requires a tutor to part with 6,000 shillings for refresher courses each year.
The group claims that the leaders of Kuppet and Knut signed a non-monetary collective agreement with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) against the wishes of the members.
“We demand the immediate resignation of non-teaching leaders in Kuppet like Mr. Omboko Milemba, who is the deputy of Emuhaya, Mr. Ronald Tonui, the deputy of Bomet Central, and Mrs. Catherine Wambilyanga, the representative of the women of Bungoma because they are no longer teachers, “Ms. Omollo said Monday.
The group also wants Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori, Treasurer Wicks Mwethi Njenga and Deputy Secretary General Moses Nthurima to resign “since they are retired”.
In an interview with the Daily Nation yesterday, Mr Misori said that at 58 he had not reached retirement age.
Disobey the constitution
He added that Kuppet’s constitution allows union leaders to serve until the age of 65, saying no leader has reached that age.
“The constitution, which we amended in 2017, allows union leaders to be politicians and serve the union,” said Mr. Misori, who announced his candidacy for governor of Homa Bay.
The teachers’ lobby wants Knut’s new officials, under General Secretary Collins Oyuu, to step down as well, accusing them of disobeying the constitution.
“Knut’s constitution states that the union represents every teacher, but the new leaders signed the agreement stating that they only represent primary teachers,” Ms. Omollo said.
She was accompanied by Mr. David Mwembei, Mr. Timothy Nderitu, Ms. Betty Koech and Salvin Munene, all members of the group.
They said teachers were tired of being separated and should be allowed to join associations of their choice.
“Unions should be for all teachers. The agreement signed by Knut should be canceled because teachers were never consulted,” they said.
The group wants to be allowed to register a union if the leaders of Knut and Kuppet refuse to withdraw.
The Kenya National Teachers Pressure Group said members of Knut and Kuppet are tired of the divide and conquer tactics employed by the TSC.
Ms Omollo and her group said teachers had never been involved in the development of the TPD, but unions did not voice members’ frustrations at TSC.
“The teachers, especially those paid by the TSC, have decided not to honor the TPD until they are directly involved in the development of the program and modules,” she said.
The group added that refresher courses should be structured, keeping in mind the dynamics of education and work, especially if TPD is to be used for promotions and professional growth.
“Insofar as we support section 35 (2) and (b) of the TSC Act (2012) on career advancement and professional development, the commission must respect the Constitution, the Labor Relations Act (2007) and the Statutory Instruments Act (2013) in the development of the TPD, ”she said.
On World Teachers’ Day Tuesday, Oyuu called on tutors to trust their unions.
“On the TPD, we ask teachers to ignore the propaganda and wait for the right information from the employer,” Oyuu said.
Knut’s general secretary added that the union hopes that the collective agreement will be revised in a year.
He said that Knut’s management fights for the teachers and has the best interests of the members at heart.
Ms Omollo’s group urged the National Assembly and the Senate to consider amending the TSC law to separate the roles of employer and regulator from the commission.
The Kenya National Teachers Pressure Group added that guardians suffer when the commission plays both roles.
Another group has started the registration process for the Kenya National Education Union.
TSC chief executive Nancy Macharia said the deployment of the TPD will continue as planned.