The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has threatened to call a nationwide teachers’ strike by the end of January if the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) continue to starve the union of its dues.
For the past two years, the teacher’s union and TSC have had strained relations and have been embroiled in disputes.
Knut Secretary-General Wilson Sossion accused TSC of meddling with its register of members.
He also accused the teachers’ employer of punishing the union by illegally removing Knut members from its official register in an attempt to cripple its operations.
“I urge Knut members to remain resolute during these moments of trial,” Mr Sossion said in Kisumu where he oversaw the union’s branch elections.
Mr Sossion also announced that the union plans to introduce a standing order system of members’ recruitment and move away from the current check-off system.
TSC has in the last one year reduced Knut dues from over Sh142 million to a paltry Sh32 million. Mr Sossion now says the standing orders to be overseen by branch officials will save the union from financial agony.
Mr Sossion told the TSC to pay all pending union dues.
Through the standing order recruitment model, Mr Sossion said members will be able to finance the union from contributing directly at the branch offices and not the head office.
“Check-off is not the best way of running a free and independent union. We used to rely on check-off until we realised that the government was using it to control us,” he said.
He added: “Each of one you (teachers) will liaise with branch officials to agree on check-off deductions and remit the union dues. With this standing order formula, the union will be made even more accountable.”
The union boss also criticised over a circular barring teachers from participating in active politics.
While terming the directive retrogressive, the Knut boss maintained that teachers are constitutionally allowed to take part in political affairs and hence will continue to exercise their rights.
He said the move by TSC to issue the circular was another attack on teachers.
“We are telling TSC that the circular is condemned and we will legally challenge it to ensure teachers continue to enjoy their political rights,” he said.
Mr Sossion, who is a Nominated MP, accused TSC of witch-hunt to muzzle the union and silence its members.
He urged teachers under the giant union to stand firm and defend the outfit despite the predicament it is facing.
A defiant Mr Sossion said he will be defending his position against the backdrop of a section of branch officials calling for his ouster ahead of the national office-bearers’ elections.
He remained optimistic that the union will be vibrant and stronger after the ongoing elections.