A section of secondary school teachers in Kilifi County have protested at what they termed as illegal deductions from their salaries and accused a teachers’ union of being behind the move.
They claimed that the Kilifi branch of Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) had started a burial and benevolent fund without involving the more than 2,000 teachers in the county.
Speaking to reporters in Malindi town Monday, the disgruntled teachers vowed to take the union to court if they do not get a proper explanation from their branch officials within seven days.
They also demanded that the branch officials disclose the amount of money that every teacher is to be deducted after some of them found that they had suffered deductions ranging from Sh200 to Sh1,100 from their August 2021 pay slips.
The teachers said although membership to the BBF was voluntary, teachers’ salaries had been deducted without their consent and called on the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to stop them.
Mr. Tirus Sang’, a teacher at Jilore Secondary School in Malindi Sub County accused Kuppet Branch Executive Secretary Caleb Mogere and other branch officials of pushing their personal agenda instead of siding with teachers, who they claimed were being mistreated by their employer.
“The Executive Secretary and his officials have taken sides with Ministry of Education officials to punish teachers opposed to the formation of the BBF, while taking advantage of his position as a mandatory signatory to the fund to muzzle teachers,” he claimed.
Mrs. Malika Nuari, a teacher from Marereni Secondary School in Magarini Sub County claimed that Mr. Mogere had lied to members that the contributions to the BBF were voluntary and wondered why even teachers who had not joined the fund had suffered deductions.
She claimed that the Executive Secretary had employed divide and rule tactics and that he had barred some officials from running the union in the county and was instead sharing information with only three trusted allies.
Others who spoke during the press briefing were Arnold Mbogo from Mapimo Primary School, Baraka Tobias from Canon Mweri Secondary School in Kilifi North Sub County and Mr. John Juma and David Simiyu.
They claimed that bereaved teachers used to receive between Sh10,000 and Sh20,000 before Mr. Mogere’s team took over, the benefits had been reduced to as low as Sh7,000 per bereaved teacher.
However, Mr. Mogere dismissed the claims as malicious, saying they were coming from his competitors during the recent elections.
He said it was true that the branch had started the Burial and Benevolent Fund (BBF) but noted that membership to the fund was voluntary noting BBF was beneficial to member teachers and would stop the over-reliance on contributions through WhatsApp groups.
He said the fund was going on in most branches of Kuppet in the country and that it was only started recently, with the first deductions being expected in August, although the branch had not yet received any money.
“The pay slips for August are not yet out, so we cannot say that the money deducted will go to Kuppet,” he said adding, “Probably, some of the teachers have suffered deductions for Agency Fee, and if that is the case, it is not within our power.”
His sentiments were echoed by Mr. Ezekiel Githinji, who said the teachers who were complaining could have been victims of the recently introduced Agency Fee for those who do not belong to any union and were benefitting from the unions’ services.
He said teachers who join the fund contributed only Sh200 from their pay slips, after they (teachers) approve the deductions through an online platform T-Pay.
“No money can be deducted from a teachers’ pay slip without that teacher approving it through T-Pay. Kuppet does not have the accounts and passwords of individual teachers for it to deduct any monies from them,” he said.
Investigations conducted by the KNA revealed that even primary school teachers who had withdrawn their membership from Kenya National Union of Teachers had suffered deductions in respect of union dues and it is possible that the teachers complaining had either been forced into Kuppet or were paying agency fees.