TSC Statement on Threatened Industrial Action by the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT)

Teachers Service Commission


Issued under Article 35(3) of the Constitution

The attention of the Teachers Service Commission is drawn to reports of threatened industrial action by the
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT).

The main reason given by the Union is the purported failure by the Government to degazette Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003, and thereby revert to Legal Notice No. 534 of 1997 which, among other things, had proposed payment of a House Allowance of 50 percent of the basic salary, medical allowance at 20 percent of basic salary and a commuter allowance pegged at 10 percent of a teacher’s basic pay.

The Commission would like to address all teachers, parents and the general public as follows:

I. The 1997 recommendations on the rates and mode of payment of teachers’ allowances was renegotiated by a Tripartite committee between September 2002 and December 2002.

The committee’s meetings were convened by the Ministry of Labour and comprised the KNUT, the Teachers Service Commission and the Ministry of Labour. High level Government officials from the Treasury, Directorate of Personnel Management and the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) also attended all the meetings of the Tripartite committee.

It is noteworthy that at every stage, KNUT, through its officials was involved in the development and subsequent gazettment of Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003. This is contrary to the impression created by the KNUT that they were excluded from the process and negotiations that led to the legal notice.

II. It is should be noted that for 10 years since Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003 was gazetted, teachers have immensely benefitted from the same gazette notice which KNUT now claims to be irregular and unlawful.

The legality of this Notice was one of the reasons KNUT called a strike in September last year.

III. Following the strike, a Return-to-Work formula proposed that the contentious issue of Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003 be referred to Parliament for interrogation in order to establish its legality. Both the Commission and the Union agreed to honour the decision of Parliament.

During the deliberations of the Select Parliamentary Committee on Delegated Legislation, the Minister for Education who gazetted Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003, did not make any representation for consideration by the Committee, although it had promised to give him an opportunity to do so before compiling its report.
The Commission is aware that the Minister had asked to meet the Committee on 17th December 2012 but was not given the opportunity to do so on that date or any other subsequent date.

Likewise, key stakeholders in the matter, including the Treasury, the Attorney General, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Ministry of Labour, and the TSC did not make presentations on the same.

Their input would have been critical considering the nature of issues in question and the financial implications that would arise from the reversal of Legal Notice No. 16 of 2003.

IV. The Commission has scrutinized the report of the Committee and other relevant records on this matter. Further, it has extensively consulted with the relevant Government agencies, including the Ministry of Education, the office of the Attorney General, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Ministry of Labour and the Treasury on the report of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Delegated Legislation. 

In all these, the Commission has been advised that the Report of the Committee cannot form the basis for any demand since it has not been subjected to debate by the House, which is a prerequisite to its adoption. Indeed in its report dated 19th December 2012, the Committee itself acknowledged that the Report needed to be debated before formal adoption. This had not been done by the time the life of the 10th Parliament expired. This position was communicated to KNUT by the Clerk to the National Assembly. The Commission anticipates that the next Parliament will take up the matter when it convenes.

V. It is also important to note that the TSC has established a consultative committee on new Terms and conditions of service for teachers as stipulated in TSC Act 2012. It was also an item in return to work formula. Discussions are ongoing and a proposal has already been submitted to Salaries and Remuneration Commission for advice. The Union may reconsider their position and use the current negotiation framework to address the issues including allowances under dispute.

VI. The Commission has endeavoured to promote the spirit of dialogue in resolution of industrial disputes. In this regard, the Commission held meetings with KNUT on 6th and 11th February 2013 to address the issues raised by the Union. In both occasions, we impressed on the Union to allow time for consultations with other Government agencies. Indeed, even on the day the Union called for industrial action, the Commission had met KNUT officials in the morning and promised to continue with consultations.

VII. It is already in the public domain that in October 2012, the Government awarded teachers a salary increment of Ksh17 billion to bring them at par with civil servants. This increased the teachers annual wage bill from Ksh120 billion to Kshs137 billion. The financial implication for the current demand by KNUT amounts to an additional annual amount of Kshs.41 billion, which the Kenyan taxpayer would be required to shoulder.

VIII. There has also been a wrong impression created through media reports that before its life ended, the 10th Parliament voted money to go to the remuneration of teachers. The truth of the matter is that Parliament did not allocate any additional resources for that. The allocation that Parliament approved in December was to regularize and meet the expenditure incurred in funding the harmonization of teachers’ salaries with those of civil servants. This was part of a Return-To-Work Agreement arrived at in order to end the teachers strike.

In view of these, the Commission would like to inform all teachers and the general public that the threat of industrial action is premature. All teachers are, therefore, advised to continue with their teaching duties in line with their employment contract with the Teacher Service Commission.

Once again, we appeal to KNUT to give dialogue and due process a chance. This is especially important during this decisive moment in the history of the country especially at this time when the country is bracing for general Elections. 

It is important to note further that the form one students are expected to report on the day of commencement of the intended strike. This intended strike will therefore infringe on the rights of the children as stipulated in the Children’s Act and the Constitution.

On its part the Commission will continue to pursue dialogue as a meaningful and productive avenue to resolve the dispute.

To this end the Ministry of Labour has appointed a Conciliator, who has convened a meeting on 19th February 2013 to look into the issues raised by the Union. 

TSC has confirmed attendance.

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