Teachers in special schools have petitioned the National Assembly to intervene in a fresh dispute over agency fee deductions to a union.
They are accusing the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) of coercing them into joining the Kenya Union of Special Needs Education Teachers (Kusnet).
In a petition dated April 15, 2023, addressed to National Assembly Education Committee chair Julius Melly, the teachers have disassociated themselves from the union, saying, they were not consulted before being listed as members of Kusnet.
They said they were being deducted union dues in the form of agency fees without their approval and the money was being remitted to Kusnet.
The teachers want the committee to order TSC and Kusnet to refund all the money deducted from teachers who did not sign any membership agreement with the union.
They have further asked the committee to determine whether TSC has the jurisdiction to make decisions on behalf of the employees on the union they should join.
“We filed a case over the [issue] after having been forced to subscribe to [Kusnet] by paying monthly union dues, which were later stopped. We later realised that we are being deducted agency fees in favour of the same union,” said the teachers in their petition. The teachers argue that their employer should allow them to join a union of their choice.
They said the move by TSC to compel them to join Kusnet instead of the other teachers’ unions amounted to an infringement on their rights as enshrined in the Constitution and labour laws. The teachers said even after they moved to court to stop the deduction on their salaries, their employer continued making deductions including the social welfare association’s fee without their consent.
“Kusnet does not have grassroots representation or known regional offices. The union does not conduct annual general meetings, annual delegates conferences and its elections are conducted in secrecy,” said the teachers in the petition.
The petition has been copied to the TSC chief executive officer, the secretaries-general of Kusnet, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) and the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), and the clerks of the Senate and National Assembly.