JSS tutors sacked two days after calling off strike

Thousands of junior school teachers on contract have been sent home two days after calling off their strike. The Nation has seen copies of some of the letters issued to the teachers by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) yesterday, citing professional misconduct as the reason for the termination of the contracts. Last month, the TSC had issued show-cause letters to 7,357 teachers. The number of the sacked teachers was not immediately established. The letters are dated June 6, 2024 but were disbursed to headteachers yesterday.

“Reference is made to the show cause letter in which you were accorded an opportunity to explain the reasons why your engagement as an intern should not be terminated on account of professional misconduct. The commission has carefully considered your response and found the same to be unsatisfactory,” reads one of the letters. Another one says: “The commission has noted that you failed and/or ignored to provide any reason for your absence from duty as required vide the afore-mentioned letter. In view of the above, the commission has decided to terminate your internship with effect from June 6 2024.”

Mr Omari Omari, the spokesperson of the lobby that has been agitating for employment of the teachers on permanent terms, told the Nation he had also been issued with a termination letter. “I was given my letter today after I reported to school (Karen C Primary in Lang’ata Sub-county). We went to the regional director to seek audience but were informed that the termination is final since they regard us as interns,” he told the Nation. The teachers had on Saturday issued a statement calling upon their colleagues to resume work to allow for the national budget to be passed pending their recruitment on permanent and pensionable terms next month.

“We shall go to class teach as from Monday (June 10, 2024) not as interns but as volunteers,” the statement read. The 38,863 teachers the TSC hired on contract were deployed to junior schools, 6,000 to primary, and 450 to secondary schools. The strike had paralysed learning in some junior schools. Another teacher, Mr John Melvin, said he was given his dismissal letter at Westlands Primary School in Nairobi, where he has been teaching since the beginning of last year. He said a colleague was also sacked, leaving just two others. On June 1 2024, officials of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) announced that they had brokered a deal between the teachers and TSC for withdrawal of the showcause letters.

Kuppet officials and the JSS teachers then signed a return-to-work formula. Hours later, the group that was led by Mr Omari disowned the agreement, saying, such a deal could only be signed between the teachers and their employer and not a union. The Kenya National Union of Teachers is on record as also having asked the teachers to resume duty pledging to negotiate with the TSC on their behalf. Teachers on contract do not belong to any of the unions owing to the nature of their engagement with the TSC. They have indicated intentions to form their own union.

The TSC had earlier indicated that 26,000 teachers will be employed on permanent basis in January 2024 but the National Assembly has directed that they be absorbed in July this year. The teachers took the TSC to court protesting their employment terms. The Employment and Labour Relations Court agreed with them that the commission only has powers to employ teachers on permanent terms and not as interns. The commission has appealed the ruling and obtained a stay of implementation of the orders until August 1, 2024.

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