The new leadership of the Kenya National Union of Teachers, which was elected on June 26, 2021 during the union’s Special Delegates Conference (SOC), marked 100 days in office last month.
The new leadership boasts of achieving so much especially in strengthening the strides towards advocating for teachers interests. Within the 100 days, we have successfully negotiated and signed teachers 2021-2025 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which was not previously possible.
Though the CBA has no monetary increment due to the advice by the SRC to the government, there is still room for that review once the country’s economy picks up,” boasts the secretary general Collins Oyuu.
Among the benefits that Oyuu praises in the new CBA include a review of the contentious delocalization policy whereby now married couples will have a chance to be re-united with their families, teachers will continue to enjoy annual increments, and fast-tracking promotion of teachers serving in Arid and Semi-arid lands (ASAL) in administrative positions.
He claims that lady colleagues have an extended maternity leave period to 120 working days, while fathers now will also have more days on paternity leave of 21 working days.
“We have also unlocked payments of arrears of the 16,000 teachers who remained loyal members of KNUT who missed out phase three and four of the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
The teachers started receiving their arrears backdated to two years. In August this year, and currently we are dealing with individual cases of those teachers who have not received their payments,” added Oyuu.
The union also signed a new Recognition Agreement (RA) with TSC since the old RA which was signed in May 15, 1968 was obsolete as the old agreement was not in line with the current scenario and changes in the laws (Constitution) of Kenya and its content were not reflecting what the teaching workforce is present, example being during those times; KNUT was the only union that represented teachers while now there are other Unions.
There was also gazettement of agency fee which was successfully done in August this year and here we wish to emphasis and clarify that the agency fee covered the previous 2017-2021 CBA and it is applicable to all the teachers who were in the union from 2017 to date.
KNUT however encourages members to come back to the union since our strength is in our numbers. “When we took over in June, operations in almost all 110 KNUT branches were paralyzed with almost all offices closed making a good number of Executive Secretaries and their staff to operate from home or from or the streets and were without salary among other challenges.
Within 100 days we have managed to restore the normal operations in all 110 KNUT branch offices countrywide and now the union can start clearing its debts amounting to Millions of shillings and pay salary to its workers,” said Oyuu.
Our members know that before we took over the leadership of this great union, the relationship between the union and our employer TSC and the government in general in particular the Ministry of Education was not good. Labor relations requires that the parties talk to each other and not at each other.
When the new team took over the leadership, we have greatly managed to restore the good working relationship between the Union and our employer and also the government in general, through having courtesy call with various government agencies notably the Cabinet Secretaries of Education, Labour and Health, Chief Executive Officers of TSC and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to mention a few,” Oyuu revealed.
These meetings and courtesy calls have yielded a good number of achievements and also collaboration with the said stakeholders. KNUT is currently involved in many programs with these partners. The Cordial relationship with TSC has seen both organizations constantly consulting on key matters on teacher management.
Training and induction programmes have started for teachers and union leadership up to branch level and collaborations made. For instance, in September this year, KICD through a letter addressed to the union Secretary General dated September 22, 2021 and signed by KICD Director Prof. Charles Ong’ondo, the country’s curriculum developer invited the union’s 110 Branch Executive Secretaries for a stakeholder’s session on the curriculum reforms implementation held at KICD on September 27,2021.
“We have also managed to bring harmony In the union decision making organs which were divided prior to the elections, and consultative meetings have been called f ram time to time”.
On membership, we have embarked on aggressive recruitment plan and currently we have received over 30,000 teachers requesting to join the union. The once lost glory of KNUT is coming back.
Teachers should display a lot of patience and tolerance as we are working hard to ensure that all our systems are operative so that we serve them better. Let the busy bodies leave the Union Affairs and allow us to work.