Knut leaders’ meeting could heal divisions of campaigns

Top Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) leaders will this week meet for the first time since the end of divisive political campaigns that saw them tear into each other over political affiliation.

The 220th National Executive Council (NEC) meeting will take place on Thursday in Nairobi and will bring together 44 senior union officials among them Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, who was campaigning for the Nasa coalition, Chairman Mudzo Nzili, who was campaigning for Jubilee, and Treasurer John Matiang’i also allied to Jubilee Party.

READ: Mixed reactions as four unions endorse Raila

READ: Union leaders criticise Sossion for backing Raila

Mr Sossion said that even though the issue is not on the agenda of the meeting, it is likely to come up given that the country is just from an election that saw different camps emerge.

“We will be discussing issues affecting teachers. This is just a normal meeting but other issues can also arise,” Mr Sossion, who insisted that teachers had a right to support the coalition of their choice since they live in a political world, said.

Other issues to be discussed at the meeting, which is the top decision-making organ of the union, will be a review of the implementation of the 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which started last month and which saw an increase in teachers’ basic salaries.

The Sh54 billion deal was signed in October last year and will benefit 312,000 teachers.

They will also discuss the delocalisation of teacher’s policy, which is set to be rolled out soon, promotion of teachers upon attainment of higher qualifications, and employment of more teachers, among others.

The Teachers Service Commission has developed tough guidelines on deployment of teachers holding administrative positions, which requires that they be posted outside their home counties.

In the CBA, it is also not automatic that by attaining higher qualification one is promoted and union leaders have been pushing for a reversal of the policy.

The unions have also demanded the recruitment of more than 90,000 teachers to address the current shortage.

READ: Teacher shortage expected to ease

The meeting is expected to heal the divisions that emerged in the giant teachers union and which saw Mr Sossion criticised for aligning the union to Nasa.

Mr Sossion, during the campaigns, asked teachers to vote for Mr Raila Odinga after he committed to hire annually 20,000 teachers against Jubilee’s 5,000 teachers annually.

Mr Nzili said that although he supported the current government, teachers were free to vote for candidates of their choice.

“I have the liberty to choose a political party of my choice and that is why, as an individual, I am supporting Jubilee Party,” Mr Nzili said during the campaigns.

Knut treasurer John Matiang’i said: “It is wrong and unconstitutional for any one of us in the steering committee to make statements on behalf of the union for his own personal gain.”

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