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TSC cracks whip on intern teachers over strike action

Tuesday, June 11th, 2024 03:30 | By
Junior Secondary School teachers from Nakuru county demonstrate on Nakuru streets demanding a better pay from TSC. They vowed not to return to school until their demands are met. PHOTO/Raphael Munge
Junior Secondary School teachers from Nakuru county demonstrate on Nakuru streets demanding a better pay from TSC. They vowed not to return to school until their demands are met. PHOTO/Raphael Munge

The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has cracked the whip of Junior Secondary School (JSS)  intern teachers for allegedly participating in an illegal strike.

TSC cited professional misconduct as grounds for the termination of services of the intern teachers, only two days after they had called off the month long strike.

Some of the  nearly 60,000 intern teachers had in early May  boycotted teaching when schools reopened for second term demanding enhanced pay and conversion of their intern contracts to permanent and pensionable.

Although the number of those sacked remained unknown, scores of the intern teachers from across the  country are said to have received the termination letters.

“The commission has noted that you failed and/or ignored to provide any reasons for your absence as required vide the aforementioned letter,” a letter dated June 6 and signed by a Ms. Mitei addressed to one of the teachers states.

Professional misconduct

“In view of the above, the Commission has decided to terminate your internship engagement with effect from June 6, on the grounds that you engaged in acts of professional misconduct in that you deserted duty with effect from May 13, 2024 to date while engaged as an intern teacher,” the letter observes.

In an earlier letter dated May 11, TSC had warned the teachers to show cause why they should not be sacked for engaging themselves in misconduct by failing to report on duty since the schools reopened.

“It is stated with a lot of concern that you breached the provisions of the TSC Act 2012 Third Schedule Clause (b) in that you engaged in professional misconduct by being absent from duty on diverse dates between May 13, 2024 to date, ” the earlier letter signed by Jackson K. Mutai had stated.

The letter had gone on to warn : “In view of the above, the Commission is contemplating termination of your engagement as an intern . Therefore, you are herby called upon to show cause why the internship engagement with the Commission should not be terminated.”

The intern teachers were supposed to respond to the show cause letters within 14 days failure to which the contemplated action would be taken without any further reminder.

Show cause letters

Sources told the People Daily that those who received termination letters yesterday were  the individuals who  did not respond to the show cause letters. In Nairobi’s Westlands alone, at least 11 teachers had received their sacking letters as reports indicated that all the more than 100 intern teachers in Lang’ata, save for only four,  had been sent packing.

The TSC’s action comes barely two days after the intern teachers called off the strike, claiming they signed  a return to work formula with TSC.

Addressing a press conference, the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) Secretary General Akelo Misori said they had also agreed that all show-cause letters issued by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) for engaging in strike will be withdrawn.

Akelo Misori said they had called off the strike to allow the National Assembly to pass the budget to pave the way for the absorption of the 46, 000 intern teachers.

The JSS intern teachers national spokesman Omari Omari disclosed that they had taken the decision after holding a series of meetings with MPs. “Please note that this means that  the  strike that began on April 17, 2024 has not been called off , but suspended until July 5, 2024. By that date, we should have gotten communication on the status of the confirmation of of the 46, 000 teachers,” said Omari.

Even after the show cause letters, the  intern teachers had vowed to stay put even as their employer directed them to go back to class.

Intensify demonstrations

Emboldened by support from the Kenya Union of Post-Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), the teachers announced elaborate plans to intensify their demonstrations countrywide..

Daniel Murithi, secretary-general of the Kenya Junior Secondary Teachers Association had  said communication from TSC urging them to resume work would not sway their resolve.

“The fact that TSC has responded requesting you to go back to school, means reports have reached them that the majority are not going back to school. The fact that they are requesting you to go back tells you that they can’t replace 46,000 teachers even if they want,” Murithi said on Wednesday.

The stalemate betweenTSC and JSS teachers followed a labour court ruling in April that deemed the internship programme as illegal because of unequal pay for equal work. However, a stay order allowed the TSC to continue employing interns until August 1.

The Labour Relations Court in April ruled that the teacher internship programme was illegal but halted any action until August 1. This means TSC is free to continue engaging the interns until August 1.

But TSC vowed that it would  only negotiate with the interns should they lose the appeal to overturn the illegality ruling.

Appearing before the National Assembly Education Committee, TSC Legal Affairs director Cavin Anyuor said the  commission lacked Sh30 billion needed to permanently employ all intern teachers.

Instead, Anyuor proposed a phased approach, absorbing only 26,000 interns in January 2025 and will need Sh8.3 billion for the absorption of the first cohort alone.

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