I hold no grudges, says Sossion after return to office
Irene Githinji and Nancy Gitonga
“I hold no grudge and want to assure all our members that all is well and we will continue to work together.
I am calling them back to work and let us work peacefully,” a humble and reconciliatory Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Wilson Sossion declared yesterday.
Speaking after being reinstated by the court as the union boss following his dramatic ouster by a rival group on Thursday, the Knut boss is known for throwing hard-hitting punches and abrasiveness, called for an end to sideshows, especially in Third Term— an examination period— to enable “our children to concentrate”.
“Our children need peace this third term to concentrate, they do not need sideshows. There is a Constitution that urges Kenyans to work and I will continue to execute my duties as I have been doing,” he said moments after the Employment and Labour Relations Court reinstated him to the SG’s position.
Sossion said the problems in the union are being fuelled by external forces and assured his colleagues that there is room for everyone to serve. He added that the strife was unnecessary and promised to ensure Knut would never experience divisions similar to what has been happening recently, which culminated in a fall-out with his fellow officials.
The official, who addressed the media outside Knut offices, which were still locked, was quick to explain he had issued a notice of closure until this morning to allow staff to make necessary arrangements for their children to resume school, considering the current financial situation of the union.
“I am happy to inform you that an earlier order of the labour court has been reversed because there is a constitutional procedure of removing any elected leader from their positions,” he said.
He described National Executive Council (NEC) members as his “best friends”, and assured he will discharge his duties as expected of him.
Sossion was also quick to urge Teachers Service Commission (TSC) to release the monthly remittances it has been holding for three months now.
But even as Sossion was playing down the wrangles bedevilling the union, his rivals through their lawyer Okong’o Omogeni, were busy seeking orders to stop him from continuing to serve as Knut SG.
The two applications filed by Omogeni will be heard today.
Earlier in the day, it was a win for Sossion when Justice Hellen Wasilwa suspended Knut’s NEC decision to kick him out of office pending hearing of an application to nullify last week’s meeting, which he said breached a court order.
She further directed that the status quo be maintained in the union, a situation that will see all Knut officials remain in office pending determination of the case.
Sossion was also allowed to access the union’s offices at Knut House as well as bank accounts held at Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB), Equity Bank and Standard Chartered Bank.
The embattled SG was removed from office in a notice from the Registrar of Trade Unions after weeks of back and forth, which resulted in an NEC meeting last Thursday, the court order he had obtained notwithstanding. The meeting had agreed to have Sossion’s deputy Hesbon Otieno take over, in an acting capacity.
At the same time, Otieno has filed a fresh application against Sossion for unilaterally purporting to close the union’s offices last week without consultations “leading to paralysis of duties”.
Otieno termed Sossion’s action as malicious, saying it has happened at a time when schools are reopening for the third term and the union requires seamless operations to serve its members. “That the actions of Sossion are malicious, self-centred and have brought a lot of disruption to the union,” he argued.