Coast region divided over union crises, Kisumu calls for change
Harrison Kivisu and Noven Owiti
The ongoing Kenya National Union of Teacher’s (Knut) stalemate has elicited sharp divisions among Coast regional officials as a plot to oust Wilson Sossion as national secretary-general gains momentum.
Coast regional executive secretary Tom Kittu Ngwegwele, says close to 33,000 members of Knut from the region want Sossion to resign.
Ngwengwele, a Knut National Executive Council member, says the entire membership of the union at the Coast is fed up with the ‘noisy Sossion’ and now want him out of office. “We want him to leave; he has served us enough. If he is wise, he should listen to what members are saying,” he said.
The Coast Knut leadership has also backed the move by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to deregister Sossion as a teacher, blaming him for the woes that have engulfed the union.
However, Ngwengwele said, only a small fraction of members had left the Knut for Kuppet so far. He appealed to teachers to be patient as the standoff is resolved. “Tutors planning to move out should be patient because all of us want Sossion out,” he said.
Knut Coast regional treasurer David Mulei says TSC has been frustrating Sossion and deregistering members of the union. “They want to weaken Knut so that they can employ teachers on a contract basis,” he said.
Liability to union
Dan Aloo, Knut NEC member from Kilindini branch and who has been Sossion’s close ally, has been defending the besieged boss.
Aloo has accused TSC of failing to tackle a 1,000 teachers deficit at the Coast despite significant primary to secondary school transition rates recently. “Dilapidated infrastructure in some public schools are still being used as classes amid a ballooning number of pupils,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kisumu county Knut branch chairman Joshua Ogallo says they are fully behind plans to remove Sossion. “The outgoing Knut boss does has failed to fight for the interest of the teachers,” he said.
Ogallo accuses Sossion of having opened too many battles with the TSC and the Education Ministry at the expense of looking into the teachers’ affairs. “We have told his leadership is a liability to the union,” said Ogallo.
The Knut branch official said teachers are particularly infuriated with Sossion’s failure to tackle the stalemate with the TSC. “The only honourable thing he should do is to quit the seat to allow for fresh elections,” adds Ogallo.