The Kenya union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) was formed and registered in the year 1998. Her members are all teachers in secondary schools, colleges and other post-secondary learning institutions but universities, as lecturers have their trade union called Universities Academic Stuff Union (UASU). Before formation and registration of KUPPET, all teacher were under the Kenya National Union of Teachers which was formed in 1959. KUPPET has 34,000 members.
KUPPET is headed by the Unions chair, a seat currently held by Omboko Milemba. There is an assistant of the chairman, who is the deputy chairperson. Then there is office of the secretary general held by Akello Misori and office of the deputy secretary general currently held by Moses Nthurima. The trade union also has a treasure, assistant treasurer and the gender secretary. The different office handle different functions, but all of them work in coordination to achieve a single goal.
KUPPET has branches in various regions of Kenya. The branches also have a complete leadership structure starting with the chairman, the executive secretary downwards. KUPPET has 47 offices in the country. The national offices run all the affairs of KUPPET at a national level while the regions KUPPET branches run affairs for the regions. The branches of KUPPET ran affairs following directives from the national offices.
As a trade union for teachers, KUPPET has the following functions:
- To unite all teachers in secondary and tertiary learning institutions
- To negotiate for better terms and conditions of the teachers with their employer through collective bargaining
- To follow the implementation of the Education Ministry Policy and call for action whenever there is breach.
- To carry out all activities that improve the education sector
In the past few years, KUPPET has been active than never before, doing negotiations for different issues pertaining the welfare of her members. The trade union has called for her members to drop their tools many times due to pay rows with the employer of her members, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). KUPPET works in a close relationship with its mother union KNUT and use the Collective bargaining power to negotiate on behalf of the teachers.
The latest row between KUPPET and the Teachers Service Commission took place in 2015, where the union was demanding 100% to 150% salary increase for her member teachers. After a fiercely fought court battle between the two, the court ordered the Teachers Service Commission to raise the salaries of the teachers by 50% to 60%. The dispute escalated and lead to a 5 weeks strike after all negotiation talks failed to yield anything. As suggested by the former Cabinet Secretary for Education Prof Jacob Kaimenyi, the TSC did not pay the September (2015), after the teachers were on a strike the entire September. The salary was however paid later after Dr. Matiang’i took over the ministry of education docket after a cabinet reshuffle by the president.
Following a long battle between KUPPET and the Teachers Service Commission last year, TSC resolved to stop deducting the teachers’ contribution towards the trade union. TSC previously directly deducted monthly membership contributions from the teachers’ salaries and give it to KUPPET. It collected about Ksh.35 million a month and about Ksh.425 million a year. KUPPET saw the move to stop doing the deductions on their behalf as a move to jeopardize her functions. Omboko Milemba the chairman of KUPPET accused TSC ofviolating the constitution and Labor Laws by failing to deduct the union’s membership fee from the teachers.
Apart from the salary negotiations that KUPPET conducts on behalf of its members, other recent negotiations the trade union has done is on the teachers’ medical scheme and issues to deal with shortages of teachers in the public secondary schools. KUPPET had serious negotiations with the government to have its members have the most suitable National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) scheme, which was successfully achieved.
KUPPET merging with KNUT
Following a two days conference in Lusaka Zambia in 2015 where top officials for the two teachers’ unions were in attendance, there was news of a merger between the two. Earlier, there was a suggestion to merge the two unions, through findings of a study carried out by KNUT in all the counties which established that the trends of the needs of the teachers are similar. The saga surrounded a claim of the chairman of KUPPET being tricked in to signing a document that would see the two union merger, during that conference in Lusaka.
The other KUPPET leaders said the national chairman does not have the sole mandate to sign and ratify a big decision like a merger without serious prior discussion and maximum participation of all officials and members. The secretary general of KUPPET Akello Misori accused the rival union of planning about the merger and hiding it from KUPPET. The agreement was signed by KNUT secretary general Wilson Sossion and KUPPET chairman Omboko Milemba.
According to Akello Misori the merger talks were not part of the agenda to be discussed during the two day conference. Omboko Milemba had travelled to Zambia for the validation of a report commissioned by Education International (EI), a global union federation of teachers’ trade unions. The report had also suggested a merger between the two rival trade union and the secretary general to KUPPET believes that KNUT and EI engaged in prior merger talks without a written consent from KUPPET.
According to Sossion who co-signed the document with KUPPET’s chairman, Milemba read the document, presented the same at the plenary session and even asked him to support it. They later signed the document.
To set the record straight, Misori said that it is the start of a process to unite the unions but not to merger them. He said KUPPET cannot dissolve to join KNUT but they can hold talks and work closely. He said the two unions engage when dealing with matters of mutual interest but a merger is out of the question.
Although KUPPET has lesser members compared to KNUT, the trade union is growing stronger day by day, and increasing its members. Some of the rivals union KNUT are deflecting to KUPPET. KUPPET It has over the eyes successfully negotiated for the interests of the members, making it on of the most strong, active and effective trade unions in Kenya.