The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) national chairman, Collins Oyuu on Saturday called on teachers to use this year’s national elections to revamp the trade union.
Speaking at Siaya central primary school grounds during the elections of the local KNUT branch, Oyuu said that teachers cannot afford to let the union die as doing so would expose them to exploitation by the employer.
Oyuu who was flanked by several national executive council members, said that efforts to reduce KNUT membership to render it unrecognizable within the labour laws was being accelerated by some people within the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), adding that the only way to counter this was for the teachers to stand firm and renew their membership.
He said that KNUT had taken measures to stop the cancellation of the recognition agreement that was scheduled to commence in the month of June when a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is to begin.
“By June, 2019, KNUT had 187,000 members, but as of today, the membership is below 30,000,” lamented the national chairman adding that the monthly commissions that the once giant union used to receive from the TSC has reduced to about Sh. 15 million from Sh. 145 million.
He said that the tactics being used to frustrate the union was not new and reminded teachers that its founders once served detention and other hardships, but stood firm to build a strong union.
“A workforce without a union is a workforce that is half dead,” said the KNUT national chairman.
Oyuu called on the TSC to stop segregation and discriminating its employees, adding that it was not in order to deny a section of teachers some emoluments just because they belonged to KNUT.
“We are re-inventing the wheel and the elections that kicked off with the branch elections today must mark the rebirth of the union to the giant it was before the current predicament it has found itself in,” said Oyuu.
He further said that KNUT was fully in support of the Building Bridges Initiative and the efforts to build a peaceful and united country.
During the elections, Alex Dunga was re-elected unopposed as the branch executive secretary.
Dunga called on teachers to continue supporting the union which, he added, was their voice against abuse and mistreatment by the employer.
By Philip Onyango