How the politics of teacher unions affect teacher benefits

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Wachira

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Ms. Mary Anyango Oluga


AKU-East Africa


This study investigated how the politics of teacher unions affect teacher benefits. The study sought to investigate the political strategies that teacher unions employ in order to fight for the benefits of teachers and the teachers’ awareness of these union activities. The study was carried out among teachers in public primary and secondary schools in Western Kenya in a county pseudonymized as New County. The respondents included classroom teachers in primary and secondary schools, school heads and principals as well as a teacher union official. This study adopted Dewey’s Pragmatic paradigm where workable methods are used for problem solving. A concurrent mixed method design was adopted so that both quantitative and qualitative data could be collected at the same time. This allowed for collection of both the feelings and attitudes of respondents as well as collection of a wide range of opinions from many respondents through survey for generalization. Quantitatively, 114 filled survey questionnaires were gathered from respondents with data on political strategies used by teacher unions, union accessibility to members, general feeling about unions by teachers and benefits that members derive from unions. 9 interviews with school heads and union leader were conducted to obtain the qualitative data. To triangulate the data collected, documents analysis of union correspondence and government documents was also carried out. Findings revealed that teacher unions effectively used both coercive and diplomatic strategies in fighting for benefits for teachers despite challenges that faced them. These political strategies included staging strikes and negotiating Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA) that improved teachers’ salaries, allowances, health benefits among others. Findings revealed the political power of unions lie in numerical numbers of teachers and the financial resources from union dues. However, having observed that unions only recruit salaried members, I would recommend further research on the possibility of incorporating non-salaried teachers in order to give the union more power for negotiation.

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