Hundreds of thousands of tsc teachers across the country spent the weekend in panic mode over their July salaries (payslips) after their employer delayed the release of their payslips.
The move signalled the possibility that they might not receive enhanced pay this month as stipulated in a collective bargaining agreement they signed in 2016.
By last evening, the more than 318,000 teachers were yet to get their payslips online, which is unusual as the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) releases their salaries by the 25th of every month.
The commission had indicated that it would deny more than 160,000 teachers holding administrative positions their third phase of the CBA.
This is estimated to cost the government an additional Sh13 billion, after the labour court issued an unfavourable judgment against TSC in its case against the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).
Sources at TSC told the Nation on Friday that the increase will only be implemented if the labour court stays its earlier orders.
The source added that payslips for teachers indicating the new salaries were ready for dispatch, but were withheld following the court’s decision.
Two weeks ago, Justice Byram Ongaya directed TSC to promote teachers, review performance appraisal tools, transfer teachers holding union leadership positions within their area of jurisdiction, and stop teacher professional development for further review.
However, Justice Ongaya declined to stay the orders, except one. He directed the TSC to convene validation meetings as soon as possible to finalise the disputed performance measurement tools and roll them out in September.
In the judgment, the court had directed the validation for finalising the performance measurement tools be done by December 1 and the rollout to start in January 2020.
The judge said he cannot issue a blanket order stopping his decision because the matter was no longer before him, and that if TSC was not satisfied, it could appeal.
“The commission will be forced to recall the enhanced July salaries that had been programmed to be paid as phase two of the CBA, since the court, by stopping the implementation of career guidelines, has effectively stopped the implementation of the CBA,” said TSC’s lead lawyer, Mr Timon Oyucho, two weeks ago. He was not available for comment on Sunday.
Knut secretary-general Wilson Sossion has however dismissed TSC’s threat to deny teachers their pay raise, saying the court ruling "does not in any way affect the total and full implementation of the CBA ..."
“TSC must not give excuses of whatever nature, but must proceed to implement the third phase in the July payroll,” he said.
Mr Sossion insisted that the court’s judgment was valid and accurate as it protects and preserves the gains achieved by teachers.
“The ruling with respect to promotions, union rights, transfers, appraisals and TPDs is a gain to teachers, (and) further makes it even easier for TSC to implement all aspects of the CBA smoothly and within the law,” the Knut boss said.
Several teachers said they were frustrated by the new developments. It is unfair, they lamented, for their employer to punish them for a matter that is before the courts.
Those who would have benefited from the higher salaries are principals, chief principals, head teachers, their deputies and senior teachers.
The 2017-2021 teachers’ collective bargaining agreement signed between TSC and Knut in 2016 will cost Sh54 billion to fully implement.
The pay increase for teachers holding administrative positions was to be implemented in four phases until June 30, 2021.
Teachers in the lower cadres had their increase in two phases.
As the wrangling between Knut and TSC intensifies, the union is proposing that the commission be placed under the direct management of the Ministry of Education, which would rob it of its quasi-independence.
In a proposal to the Building Bridges Initiative Task Force, Knut argues that most of teachers’ day-to-day activities such as curriculum implementation, supervision, quality assurance, and assessment fall directly under the State Department of Basic Education.
“Placing the commission under the watch of the State Department of Basic Education will greatly assist in addressing duplication of functions and, more importantly, reduce the cost of running the Ministry of Education,” reads the presentation to the BBI team, which is expected to submit its report to President Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga in October.