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Kuppet threatens to sue TSC over sacked JSS tutors

The Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) has petitioned the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to reinstate 742 teachers whose contracts were terminated on Monday, June 10.

The union said it has formally written to the commission and if the teachers are not reinstated within 14 days, it would seek alternative avenues, including legal action.

Kuppet Deputy Secretary-General Moses Nthurima said although the teachers are not members of the union, Kuppet would go to court on their behalf in “public interest”.

Junior school teachers went on strike last month when schools reopened for the second term. The Nation has established that the TSC issued ‘show cause’ letters to 10,348 teachers, giving them 14 days to respond and report back to work.

Some 9,606 teachers reported back, leaving out 742 whose contracts were cancelled. In total, 46,000 teachers are on contract. Over the weekend, the leadership of a lobby that has been coordinating the strike issued a statement calling off the strike.

However, the teachers, who are deployed to junior schools, had their contracts terminated on Monday in what the commission termed professional misconduct.

Mr Nthurima accused the TSC of going against an agreement he claimed the union had with the commission that ‘show cause’ letters issued to the teachers would be withdrawn and no disciplinary action would be taken against the tutors if they resumed work. He was speaking during a press conference at the union headquarters in Nairobi.

“The dismissals go contrary to the rules of natural justice demanding that no one should be condemned unheard. None of the teachers affected by this action were afforded an opportunity to defend themselves at a disciplinary hearing. The dismissals also negate the return-to-work formula that Kuppet negotiated with the Teachers Service Commission on behalf of the JSS teachers. Under the formula agreed with the commission, teachers who resumed work on June 3, 2024, would not be punished,” Mr Nthurima said.

The strike kicked off after the Employment and Labour Relations Court (ELRC) judge Byram Ongaya ruled that the TSC could only employ teachers on permanent terms and not as interns. The teachers are demanding the implementation of the ruling.

There are 46,000 teachers under the internship programme. The teachers who are deployed in primary schools earn a ‘stipend’ of Sh15,000 while those in junior and secondary schools get Sh20,000. However, their take-home is less because this is also subject to statutory deductions.

They do not also benefit from the teachers’ health insurance coverage. On Tuesday, the teachers suffered another blow after the Court of Appeal issued stay orders against the judgment of the ELRC pending the hearing and determination of an appeal lodged by the commission.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly has allocated Sh8.3 billion to TSC to convert 26,000 teachers who were hired last year to permanent terms in July this year, leaving out 20,000 others.

The funds were allocated following recommendations by the Committee on Education. The TSC had earlier planned to effect the conversion in January 2025. However, the fate of the 742 teachers is now unclear and whether the termination of their contracts affects their future employment prospects. “They have not been de-registered. It’s just a termination of their internship, which is not compulsory,” a source within TSC told Nation. The source added that the teachers have already been replaced.

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