Female teachers take TSC to court over unauthorised welfare deductions

A legal fight has broken out between female teachers and their employer over alleged unauthorised deduction of welfare fees from their pay slips running into hundreds of millions of shillings in the last five years.

The battle between the teachers and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has sucked in the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut).

Five Kuppet officials have sued their own union, TSC, Knut and EACC (on behalf of the affected female teachers), seeking to halt the deductions, and secure refund of the monies to the affected teachers.

Kuppet branch executive secretaries Paul Rotich (Nandi), William Lengoyiap (Samburu), Robert Miano (Laikipia) and Peter Oluoch (Tana River), and Jentrix Ogola (Kisii Vice Treasurer) have accused Knut, EACC and Kuppet of allowing TSC and its CEO Nancy Macharia to violate the law and the constitutional rights of female teachers.

The Sh200 monthly deductions, indicated in the teachers’ pay slips as Social Welfare Association (SWA), does not show the receiving organisation, according to documents filed before the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nakuru.

“In an attempt to conceal the nature and cumulative amount of the deductions to confuse the affected teachers on how much has been deducted from them (cumulatively), (TSC and its CEO) often stop the deductions from time to time, for a month or so, after which they resume (deductions),” the officials say in court papers.

They claim that since the deductions commenced five years ago, they had repeatedly made demands for a stop but the TSC and Ms Macharia continued to chop their pay slips “in what could only point at a personal interest on the matter”.

The teachers are seeking to have the court find that “by forcefully enrolling the female teachers into an unknown entity, and deducting the money from their pay, the female teachers have suffered financial embarrassment and injustices”

It is claimed that the deductions, unlike others captured in the pay slips, do not have a clear narration, nor does TSC show the receiving agency.

“They (teachers) remain in the dark to date as to whereabouts, the operations, and day-to-day running of the entity that has been religiously receiving their money from the year 2019 without their authorisation”.

“As a result of these illegal deductions, the female teachers affected have had to contend with receiving an even lesser salary, which money is not sufficient to cater for their needs in these harsh economic times” the petitioners aver in court filings.

After complaints were raised about the deductions, the petitioners say, TSC introduced an “exit button” for Kuppet and Knut members to leave the union as a precursor for their benefiting from the third phase of salary increment.

In a replying affidavit, EACC confirms receiving the complaint on the alleged illegal pay-slip cuts in May 2023.

The Commission (EACC) states that the complaint was received and “it was entered into the system, and the matter is under active investigations stage”.

In its replying affidavit, TSC says the petition by the female teachers is based on misrepresentation of facts, employment law and practice.

“Through the T-Pay system, teachers have the absolute ability to discontinue/or stop any deductions that are unauthorized,” says Ms Evaleen Mitei, the acting TSC director in charge of Human Resource Management.

“Accordingly, the allegations in the petition against the commission are not only illogical but also untenable under the circumstances.”

She states that Social Welfare Association (SWA) deductions were made on behalf of Kenya Women Teachers Association (Kewota)— a union to which one of the petitioners (Ogola) has allegedly belonged since 2019, but which she denies subscribing to.

Knut, as per the court records, has not so far entered a reply to the petition that has far-reaching financial ramifications on the unions and teachers’ welfare associations.

And as a result of the petition, TSC has stopped Burial and Benevolent Fund (BBF) deductions in favour of Kuppet as per a memo to Mr Akello Misori, the union secretary-general.

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