TSC chair risks ouster over Uhuru teachers pay deal

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to the Teachers Service Commission to settle tutors’ September salary and prepare a new pay package has been termed unconstitutional.

Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandai (ODM) said President Kenyatta’s directive is a breach because the commission is an independent office and on which basis will push for the removal of the TSC chairman Lydia Nzomo.

Mr Wandai relied on Article 249(2)(b) of the Constitution that states: “the commissions and the holders of independent offices are independent and not subject to the direction of control of any person or authority.”

On Tuesday, Mr Kenyatta met TSC and representatives of the teachers unions where he directed the commission to pay teachers’ salaries that were withheld following a month long strike that paralysed learning in public schools.

The President also told the TSC and the unions to start fresh talks on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that would last the next four years and ordered that the said negotiations be completed within a month.

“When President purported to direct TSC to pay teachers their September salaries, he had no power to do so under the Constitution or any other written law.

“I will be initiating the process of removing Lydia Nzomo from office for violating the Constitution, incompetence and gross misconduct,” he said at a press conference in Nairobi.

The High Court will on November 20 make a ruling in a case that teachers have filed on whether they should be paid their September salaries amounting to Sh13 billion.

READ: TSC teachers to know fate of Sept pay in two weeks

More than 245,000 of 288,060 teachers missed their September salaries after the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) only paid 42,973 teachers, arguing that the five-week strike was illegal. Most of the teachers who were paid were principals, their deputies and heads of department who were in schools for the duration of the strike.

Mr Wandai said that teachers should have been paid their salaries on the last day of September adding that if they are to be paid now, TSC should pay plus interest.

Article 251 of the Constitution list grounds for the removal of an independent office holder which include serious violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct or incompetence.

The deal reached with Mr Kenyatta for the new CBA is premised on the Salaries and Remuneration Commission providing binding aice during the process as well as teachers’ unions dropping all cases in court.

It was not immediately clear if the legal appeal will go on with differences emerging at the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) leadership.

Secretary-general Wilson Sossion has distanced himself from the deal saying he was not invited to State House when it was reached. The Kenya Union of Post Primary Teachers has since agreed to talks paving the way for a new CBA.