Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has now recognised a third tutors’ union, the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet).
An estimated 4,000 tutors with special needs, some of whom were in the already existing teachers’ unions are said to have already moved to Kusnet.
The move is likely to attract rigorous debate, coming at a time when Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has been condemning TSC over what it terms as attempts to kill the union, the situation exacerbated by monthly reduction in their membership.
“The Commission hereby affords full recognition of the union as the body representing interests of special needs education teachers in the employment of the Commission and who are paid up members of the Union and teachers with special needs in the employment of the Commission and who are paid up members of the union,” read the recognition agreement between TSC and Kusnet.
The Commission affords Kusnet full recognition to the extent permitted by law and subject to the provisions of the agreement, the employer shall exclusively engage with the Union on matters pertaining to the welfare of special needs education teachers and teachers with special needs.
“All negotiations concerning terms and conditions of service in respect of members of the Union shall be carried out between the commission and the Union, provided that all negotiations concerning remuneration shall be based on mandatory and binding advisory of Salaries and Remuneration Commission,” read the agreement.
It provides that negotiation concerning matters other than terms and conditions of service shall be carried out in accordance with procedure set out in the agreement, which procedures shall be made known and understood by both parties.
The recognition agreement also stated that negotiations between the employer and the Union will be conducted in a free and conducive environment devoid of threats to or actual industrial action or lock out and in a proper, structured, cordial and professional manner.
“Parties hereby agree to negotiate in good faith and solve all disputes amicably with a view to uphold and promote the best interest of learners. To this end, parties agree that there shall be no threats or actual threat to lock out or industrial action during the negotiations,” the agreement stated.
Mandated by the constitution
The agreement provides that parties agreed that a teacher employed by the commission and who is in administrative position will not hold an elective position in the union.
Where a teacher in the administrative cadre is elected as a union official, the teacher shall relinquish the administrative post forthwith.
According to the agreement, the commission reserves the sole right to conduct it business and manage its operations as mandated by the Constitution, TSC Act, 2012 and all other relevant statutes, without interference with the Union’s internal affairs except as provided in the agreement or under any other written law.
On the other hand, the union reserves the right to conduct its business in conformity with the relevant law and regulations without interference with the commission’s internal affairs except as provided in the agreement or under any other written law.
“The union undertakes that no teacher will be compelled to become a member of the Union and the Commission undertakes that no teacher will be penalised on account of his/ her membership to the union or non- membership thereof,” adds the agreement.
TSC is embroiled in a tussle with Knut over funds, with the latter saying the employer body has been punishing them, denied them dues and even removed Knut members from the official register in an attempt to cripple its operations.
The dispute has the membership of Knut shrinking from a high of 187,000 to about 30,000 and its income dwindling from Sh144 million to Sh15 million.
Last week, Knut momentarily dropped its industrial action threat