What you need to know:
- The signing of the 2021-2025 CBA was an anticlimax as union officials appeared to have agreed to the same deal they had rejected two weeks ago without getting anything more for their members.
Teachers have nothing to celebrate after their unions on Tuesday signed a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) without a pay increase.
The signing of the 2021-2025 CBA was an anticlimax as union officials appeared to have agreed to the same deal they had rejected two weeks ago without getting anything more for their members.
While the officials stand to benefit from better salaries and associated allowances from the union dues and agency fees they receive from teachers’ monthly deductions, the tutors will wait five years for a salary review.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet) had initially rejected the non-monetary offer, with officials insisting on an amendment to a clause to allow them to restart negotiations one year to the lapse of the salary review freeze.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) had invited the media to cover a joint press conference with the unions at 3pm but this was delayed until late in the evening as the parties haggled. At one point, negotiations appeared to have hit a snag but at the end of the day, the TSC walked out of the negotiation room victorious.
Teachers will only be entitled to additional maternity leave (120 days from 90) and paternity leave (21 days from 14). The TSC also agreed to a 45-day adoption leave for teachers.
The commission will then effect the two-year salary review freeze directive for all government employees as directed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC.
Union leaders on Tuesday met TSC officials led by the chair, Mr Jamleck Muturi, and chief executive Nancy Macharia, the culmination of behind-the scenes lobbying ever since talks collapsed two weeks ago.
The top organs of the unions had met on Monday to lay strategies for the negotiations.
“I assure teachers that all is not lost. We still have room to fight for a basic salary increase,” said Knut secretary-general Collins Oyuu. “We shall have time to elaborate all this to members. We shall not sit back as partners.”
This is a moment of reckoning especially for teachers who have quit Knut over the past two years but who are now without a union to air their grievances.
The new officials elected last month inherited a broke union that was struggling to pay salaries and rent and has already seen some of its assets attached by auctioneers.
They now hope to receive the money they badly need at the end of this month after TSC activated a function on the portal for teachers to rejoin the union. In its heyday, Knut would rake in about Sh144 million compared to the current Sh15 million.
If the membership of Knut rises again, it stands to be the biggest winner.
Kuppet secretary-general Akelo Misori said: “We have come [a long way] in terms of allaying difficulties and challenges. Although the commission did not provide any monetary aspect in the CBA, we are asking to be recalled to review the document.”
He thanked TSC for the extended leave days and said the talks focused on all the gains teachers have made over the years.
“Once the TSC gets a go-ahead, we expect a review of the basic pay rise of between 30 to 70 percent as we had proposed. We expect another meeting within one year.”
Kusnet Secretary-General James Torome noted that the journey to the agreement began a year ago.
“Within one year, we would want to be called to review the document we have signed today,” he said.
The 2017 – 2021 CBA that was worth Sh54 billion expired last month and teachers must now wait to see whether the economy will improve before they can demand a pay rise.
For not belonging to any union, the teachers will still be deducted a percentage of their pay that will be handed over as agency fees to the unions.
“We thank unions for agreeing to sign what we have offered. Although [teachers wanted more money], we followed the SRC advice to freeze salary increments. We appreciate all parties for taking consideration of the [tough] economic times. We ... shall continue to provide a conducive environment for all our teachers,” Ms Macharia said.
The Nation understands that, during the first meeting, it is Mr Misori who prevailed upon his Knut counterpart, Mr Oyuu, not to sign a CBA that would not give teachers more money.
Kuppet officials appeared crestfallen at the end of the press conference.