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Monday, 15 February 2021

Knut threatens strike over stalled salary negotiations

 


A teachers’ union has threatened to rally its members to an industrial strike if the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) does not convene fresh pay rise negotiations within 10 days.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) is furious that the TSC is yet to kick-start negotiations for the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the 2021-2023 phase, which, it argues, should have been settled three months ago.

Knut has rejected a proposal for a salary increment of between 16-32 percent that the TSC had presented to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), arguing that it was prepared unilaterally.

Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion said the current CBA expires on June 30, while implementation of the new CBA is supposed to begin from July 1, yet the TSC has ignored their numerous letters on the talks.

Mr Sossion said the new CBA should have been finalised and signed by all parties by October, last year.

Commence negotiations

Mr Sossion has now written to Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui threatening to call for a teachers’ strike should negotiations not begin in the next 14 days.

“We hereby give you 14 days with effect from the date of this letter and failure of action from your part shall lead to a full blown industrial action,” Mr Sossion said in a letter dated February 10.

Mr Sossion said that, despite numerous correspondences from 2019 urging the TSC to formally commence negotiations with the union, the teachers’ employer has ignored the letters.

“Negotiations of a CBA is a constitutional right of a trade union and an employer cannot rubbish it with impunity the way they are doing,” said Mr Sossion.

Last month, Knut also wrote to TSC and threatened to call for a strike if the commission failed to invite the union for CBA talks.

“I am under firm instructions from the National Executive Council to hereby demand that you put in place the necessary measures to commence negotiations,” Mr Sossion told the TSC in the letter dated January 27.

Knut yesterday demanded that proper job evaluations for teachers must be done so that they can be adequately compensated in the next CBA.

“By now, we should have concluded and signed the next CBA to allow for the ongoing government budget making process to accommodate new salary proposals,” said Mr Sossion.

Mr Sossion said the 16-32 percent salary increase proposal forwarded by TSC to the SRC last year is irregular as it is not a product of consultations.

TSC had written to the SRC asking for an advisory on the remuneration of teachers.

TSC also presented a counter offer to the proposals by Knut and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers (Kuppet).

Basic salary

TSC proposed a16 percent basic salary increment for teachers in Grades C4 to D5 and a 32 percent increment for teachers in Grades B5 to Grade C3 for the four-year period — 2021-2025.

Knut had proposed a basic salary increment of between 120 percent and 200 percent for the next two years.

Kuppet wants a salary increment of between 30 percent and 70 percent for teachers in the same job grade for the next four years.

Knut has proposed a two-year CBA that ends in 2023 instead of four-year cycle that TSC proposes until 2025.

Mr Sossion said the action by TSC is also not supported by any data from the Central Planning and Monitoring Unit (CPMU) in the Ministry of Labour.

In a letter dated November 13, addressed to TSC chief executive officer Ms Nancy Macharia, Mr Sossion asked the TSC to convene a meeting urgently to iron out the long standing dispute between them over the 2017-2021 CBA before commencing the negotiations for the 2021-2023 CBA.

Knut and TSC have had a dispute over the current CBA which has seen members of the union left out in salary increments and promotions.


COURTESY OF DAILY NATION    

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