Today, December 9th, Education International's Executive Board passed a resolution calling on the Kenyan government to call on the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the national employers' authority in the education sector, to launch a campaign of discrimination against the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT). The government must ask the TSC to respect international conventions, as well as relevant court and parliamentary decisions in the country.
In a protracted, intense anti-union campaign, the TSC discriminated against members of the KNUT, denied members coverage of the collective agreement and withdrew membership fees from the union.
This systematic attack on the KNUT has decimated union membership and compromised the unions' ability to represent members. In addition, the TSC is trying to revoke a trade union recognition agreement signed in 1968.
To conclude its resolution, the Board of Directors of Education International:
1. Calls on the Kenyan government to intervene and ensure that the TSC reverses its anti-union actions against KNUT and engages in serious dialogue and in good faith in order to restore healthy working relationships and a good environment for quality education.
2. Calls for the TSC to reset KNUT membership to June 2019; fail to discriminate against KNUT members with regard to their remuneration, promotion and working conditions; Return to implementation of collective agreement 2017-2021; and implement all relevant court orders and parliamentary decisions.
3. Reaffirms Education International's strong support for the KNUT in its fight for full respect for union rights and the interests of its members.
4. Declares that KNUT's struggle to maintain and defend its union is the struggle of Education International and the global union movement.
5. Commits to mobilizing solidarity to defend the rights and progress of teachers in Kenya.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and Education International wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, citing the systematic discrimination against KNUT members and attacks on their leaders. They said that by September, more than 86,000 elementary and elementary school teachers, including many elected union officials, had been illegally stripped of their KNUT membership.
ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow and EI General Secretary David Edwards called for compliance with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 98 on the right to organize and collective bargaining (1949), ratified by Kenya. This Convention prohibits anti-union discrimination aimed at making the employment of a worker conditional on him not joining or denying membership, causing or otherwise affecting the dismissal of a worker for union membership, or for participating in union activities outside of working hours or, with the consent of the employer, within working hours. "
The joint letter called on President Kenyatta's government to "instruct the Teachers Service Commission to negotiate in good faith with the union" and to "restore the rights of KNUT and its members to their status quo before May 2019". It concludes that the Government of Kenya "is solely responsible for compliance with its international obligations arising from the ILO conventions to which it is party".
Mugwena Maluleke, EI vice-president and general secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), provided details on the direction of the KNUT and the systematic efforts to force its members to quit a large and powerful union rolled into one in implementing the resolution Destroyed land with a long democratic tradition. Other African governments may be tempted to attack independent trade unions as well.