A day to the talks between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and teachers’ unions on the new proposed Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), signs of striking a compromise are beginning to emerge.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), which had previously objected to a CBA without monetary gains as proposed by TSC, is now climbing down and suggesting a possibility of having an agreement with a condition that the suspension only lasts two years.
TSC has scheduled a meeting with teachers’ unions to negotiate the proposed CBA, as pressure mounts on the latter to accept a deal without monetary gains.
The commission invited the unions to the July 13 meeting to discuss the 2021-2025 CBA. At a meeting held on June 29, TSC had said it would not engage in money-based CBA.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Collins Oyuu yesterday said they were willing to get into an agreement with the employer on a two-year CBA that captures all other aspects of terms and later sign a different CBA on financial gains.
“Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has suspended the review of salaries and teachers are not exceptional, but must agree with the TSC that teachers’ salaries will be reviewed immediately after the lapse of the suspension period depending on the country’s economic performance,” said Mr Oyuu.
At the same time, the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Nairobi branch executive secretary Moses Mbora has urged the national office to follow suit.
Previously, the Kuppet secretary-general Akello Misori had announced that they were reluctant to accept a CBA that does not include salary increments for teachers.
TSC’s stand on non-monetary CBA rose from advice from the SRC that put a freeze on the review of salary structure.
SRC pronounced that it would not review basic salary structures, allowances, and benefits for public servants, including teachers, in the financial year 2021/2022 and 2022/2023, following recommendations from the National Treasury.
The unions previously maintained that teachers expected nothing short of salary increment to cushion them against inflation and the burdens of increased workload under the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) coupled with a biting teacher shortage.
In the June meeting with teachers’ unions, TSC offered promotion of teachers in arid and semi-arid land (ASALs) and hardship areas, enhanced package on maternity leave to 120 days and paternity leave of 21 days with full salaries, as well as transfers of couples to teach in schools near each other.
“We are looking at a CBA that does not break families. Let us not only concentrate on the financial gains because the CBA has so many aspects,” said Oyuu.
The new CBA seeks to recognise teachers’ leadership and technical roles in realisation of the CBC within and outside the classroom, which had been ignored in the evaluation tool previously used by SRC in crafting teachers’ job descriptions.
Implementation of the CBA would be a boost for classroom teachers as it recognises the role they play in implementation of the CBC.
The unions are pushing for the implementation of the four-year agreement as it focuses more on the true worth of teachers as the country transitions to an education system that subjects them to more work.
No review of basic salary structure, allowances and other benefits for the period 2021/2022to 2022/2023 means job grades, salary bands from Minimum to maximum within grades, allowances and other benefits remain the same.
This also implies that employees can enjoy annual increments and promotions from one grade to another through common cadre transitions and competitive interviews at constant salary bands, allowances and other benefits.
Teachers had been expecting to get new terms for the 2021-2016 CBA hoping that the next CBA shall resolve challenges that were not conclusively addressed by the last one.
Both Kuppet and Knut had separately presented their salary proposals to inform negotiations with TSC.
Kuppet had pitched a salary increment of between 30 and 70 per cent for the new 2021-2026 while TSC is reported to have proposed between 16 to 32 per cent.
The Kuppet proposal would see the lowest paid teacher’s salary rise from Sh21,756 to Sh36,985 while those in higher cadres under Job Group D4 who currently earn Sh118,242 would take home Sh153,714.
Knut had also proposed a salary increment of between 120 and 200.
The Knut proposal means the monthly basic salary for the lowest paid teacher (Grade B5) would be raised from Sh21,756 to a maximum of Sh87,024 while salary of the highest paid teacher (Grade D5) would be increased from Sh131,380 to Sh394,140.
Teachers are also hopeful that the CBA will streamline guidelines for competitive promotion interviews to enable Special Needs Education teachers to compete fairly with teachers handling normal learners.