By Eunice Kayo and Mourice Seretta
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) on Friday maintained that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was systematically continued to mutilate the Union’s Membership Register with the sole aim of crippling the operations of the giant Union.
While addressing the press, the Union’s National Secretary General Wilson Sossion said that TSC assertions that members are quitting the Union out of their own volition without being enticed or coerced are untrue, instead said that TSC had stage managed the scene to appear that teachers are abandoning the Union.
“TSC is forcefully removing KNUT members from the register with a LONG-TERM AIM OF MAKING THE Union not meet the required threshold to be recognized as a union to represent teachers. We maintain that our membership stands at over 200, 000 as per our records and in accordance with section 48 of the Labour Relations Act,” Sossion said.
Sossion also took issue with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection saying the Ministry has kept quiet over the restoration of KNUT membership register as per June 2019, and recovery of un-deducted union dues for all the months despite the union notifying the Cabinet Secretary in charge Simon Chelugui over the same through a letter dated August 11th, 2020.
“The Ministry of Labour has gone mute over the matter whereas TSC continues to cripple the operations of the Union by attacking the chek-off system, hence systematically diminishing the resources of KNUT. We have dispatched a final reminder letter to the Cabinet Secretary Labour vide Ref. No. KNUT/LAB/32/14/2020 dated November 9, 2020 to act on the matter or we take severe action,” Sossion warned.
Sossion further explained that for unexplained reason(s), the check-off system was suspended by TSC during the months of July, August and December 2019 and that it was closely followed by illegal massive offloading of members from the Union register contrary to the provision of Section 48 of the Labour Relations Act.
He added that the mischief of TSC was aimed at creating wrangles in the Union, to weaken the bargaining platform of teachers and cause change in the KNUT leadership and that the commission had embarked on clandestine messaging urging KNUT leaders to kick him out of office for the check-off to be restored.
“Meddling in the internal affairs of the union and clandestinely promising reinstatement of the Register once leadership change is caused in the office of the Secretary General is a violation of Article 41 of our constitution. KNUT runs a payroll of KShs80 million monthly which can no longer be sustained by the declining income that is currently standing at KShs25 million as at the month of October 2020,” Sossion outlined.
The KNUT boss also said that the said moves by TSC had also seen KNUT officials and employees, retired officials had lost their medical covers and their lives were at risk because they were not able to access quality health services. Sossion said that sadly, KNUT had lost two branch staff, the late Paul Lepore who until his death was the Executive Secretary of KNUT Narok Branch who died at home, and the late Xavior Miheso of Kakamega Central Branch. He disclosed that both died because of inability to access quality healthcare.
“Our staff and elected officials with loans have been placed under CRB because of their inability to service loans. This has greatly affected the social status of our staff and elected officials including the image of KNUT.
Sossion said that the Union’s National Executive Council was also unable to organize the Annual Delegates Conference for the second year in the month of December as per KNUT constitution. He said that the trade union elections were called by the Registrar of Trade Unions vide letter Ref. No.ML&SP/TU/ELECTION/2021 dated September 25th, 2020. He said it was difficult for KNUT to organize for the polls as they had done in the past. He explained that the move meant that over 160,000 members were to be denied the right to participate in elections because of a messed up membership register.
The KNUT boss called on Labour CS Simon Chelugui to act within his constitutional powers and ensure that TSC was stopped from meddling with the internal affairs of KNUT, and attempting to determine the Secretary General of the Union.
Sossion also wants the Labour CS to ensure TSC restores KNUT Membership Register as per June 2019 and remit union dues of all members for all the months.
”We also want the CS to ensure TSC restores the KNUT Check off system in full as it was in June 2019. Already, 110 branch offices have been shut down and property auctioned because of diminished resources, hence services to members stopped” Sossion appealed.
He further called on the CS to exercise his mandate and stop TSC from meddling with the affairs of KNUT and stop its continued attempt to change the leadership of the office of the Secretary General as that was a democratic decision of the members of the Union.