A section of female teachers are accusing recently launched Kenya Women Teachers’ Association (KEWOTA) of forcing them into the association through monthly subscriptions.
Teachers who reached out to Kahawa Tungu indicate that the body through the employer, Teachers Service Commission (TSC), has been making deductions on female teachers’ salaries, without their consent.
The body is led by one Ms Benta Opande as the CEO, Ms Jacinta Ndegwa as the treasurer and Ms Dorothy Muthoni as the chairperson.
The teachers allege that despite complaining, the trio have resorted to threats and intimidation of teachers who face deductions.
“We woke up and found Kewota approved on our payslips. As we continue to vent our frustrations, the CEO has resorted to engaging the teachers who are complaining about the illegal approvals daring them to report to TSC or DCI (Directorate of Criminal Investigation),” says one of the teachers who spoke to this writer on condition of anonymity.
As the norm in any association, members should apply to join such associations and any deductions should be upon consent or legal agreement, which most teachers say they are not part of.
“Its formation, intention, and ultimate access to the teachers payslips is a mystery too. Female teachers received a prompt on their payslips to approve and join Kewota. They declined because by not responding the only prompt available was to click APPROVE. To their shock, on payday, many checking their payslips, it had mysteriously been approved with a notification that Ksh200 will be deducted,” says another teacher.
The association effects the Ksh200 deduction through TPay, the software used by the employer to pay the teachers.This means that the teachers cannot institute a litigation against the employer, according to their employment terms and conditions.
Speaking exclusively to Kahawa Tungu, Ms Opande however denied the claims, saying that not even a single cent from the teachers had reached their accounts.
“Our accounts are open to investigation, we have not received any amount from TSC on behalf of the teachers. We have asked those who have complained for their numbers (TSC) and discontinued any deductions. We have told them that if there are any erroneous deductions we shall refund that money immediately. We get it,” she said.
She however did not explain why most teachers found themselves having deductions, despite not signing up for Kewota, referring us to the TSC.
“I have seen the payslips they are talking about and the deductions are indicated as a loan to Kewota. We are not a sacco, we do not give loans so the auditing should be directed elsewhere,” said Ms Opande
Our attempts to contact TSC boss Nancy Macharia proved futile as she did not pick calls neither did she respond to our text messages at the time of going to press.
Opande said that she had 58 members currently and lobbying was going on to have more members, and that their payments would be made through a paybill number that is yet to be unveiled.
She said that the allegations could be a creation of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), that had already threatened female teachers from joining the association.
“KNUT has 11 officials at the national office, and only two are females appointed out of affirmative action. Female leaders cannot be elected. If I show you the threats and the letters we got from (Wilson) Sossion… he even called a meeting and said that any woman who is in this association (Kewota) should leave the union (KNUT). People are worried that I have started a second centre of power,” said Ms Opande.
Teachers online, some of whom are using pseudo accounts for fear of reprisals, complained that their payslips might not be safe following the deductions.
Using the hashtag #KEWOTAmustgo, the teachers expressed their anger towards the body. Below are some of the online reactions:-
“I have written to the DCI about illegal invasion of the payslips. Considering that someone unknown to us approved the deductions without our consent and yet we have the password to the payslips. That alone is criminal! Payslips not safe!” said Wanjiru Kiguru.
@nyanchwani @DCI_Kenya @TchaKeicy #KEWOTAmustgo has mutilated the teachers payslip without their consent. This is a criminal act that must stop. @bentaopande must stop stealing teachers hard earned money.
— mwalimuke (@edu_watchdogKE) June 17, 2019
Joining an association or a union remain voluntary according to the Constitution, teachers won't be forced into any. 300,000 teachers can't be rendered voiceless.not@tchakeicy #KEWOTAmustgo
— Wanjiru Kiguru (@KiguruWanjiru) June 16, 2019
@wilson_sossion @KNUTKenya @TSC_KE @citizentvkenya @DCI_Kenya @EACCKenya @ntvkenya Tsc has effected a deduction on female teachers for #KEWOTA. the status of the loan is approved.the approval was without teachers consent. Itsillegal and unprofessional#KEWOTAmustgo
— leahkinuthia (@leahkinuthia) June 15, 2019
@citizentvkenya this is not what we asked for when we went for interviews and got employed by the govt via TSC. Teachers have a right, a voice and integrity. An employer in the name of KEWOTA can not get into your payslip and deduct money without your consent.@#KEWOTAmustgo pic.twitter.com/RDxPAgIBJM
— Tcha Keicy (@TchaKeicy) June 15, 2019
TSC MUST WITHDRAW THE ILLEGAL DEDUCTIONS OR KEWOTA before they release the june salary. Teachers did not approve the deductions! It's criminal! Password hacked! Online payslips not safe! It must leave us!!!#KEWOTAmustgo
— Wanjiru Kiguru (@KiguruWanjiru) June 15, 2019