Knut officials from North Rift support Secretary-General Sossion
Officials of Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) North Rift region have vowed to stand with beleaguered Secretary General Wilson Sossion despite spirited efforts to oust him.
Speaking to Scholar on Friday, the officials accused ‘moles’ within the union of allowing themselves to be used by State organisations in a plot to remove Sossion through the back door.
Drawn from Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, West Pokot and Turkana counties, the officials threatened to hold mass protests against the government for trying to cripple operations of the giant union.
Led by West Pokot Knut Executive Secretary Martin Sembelo, the officials said they will use all legal means at their disposal to ensure Sossion retains his seat. “We are aware of a plot orchestrated against him within the union leadership backed by outsiders,” he said.
On Friday, the Labour ministry acknowledged a change of officials in the union following a Knut National Executive Council (NEC) meeting on Thursday that replaced Sossion with his deputy, Hesbon Otieno. Sossion’s lawyers have threatened to sue the State on the move, claiming that the matter is before the court.
Sembelo said tutors will not allow Sossion to be bundled out of office by a few disgruntled members of the NEC, terming the planned move unworkable.
John Cheberi (Elgeyo Marakwet Knut Executive Secretary) said no amount of threats and intimidation from the government will force them to ditch Sossion. “We are going to stand with him come rain or shine. Any move to topple his leadership will be heavily resisted by members,” he warned.
Cheberi said it would be more prudent to elbow out all members of Nec and replace them with new faces instead of just targeting Sossion.
“Let the State know that its scheme to disintegrate the union by staging a coup against Sossion through disgruntled NEC members will fail. He still has support and goodwill at the branches,” he said.
Turkana Knut county chairman Kenyaman Ariong’a has also decried a section of Nec members who have allowed themselves to be used by “outside forces” to oust Sossion.
“We demand the removal of all Nec members allied to the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) who are giving Sossion sleepless nights during the next meeting scheduled to be held in Kakamega,” added Ariong’a.
He challenged TSC to be at the forefront of cultivating good relations with the union instead of causing confusion over its differences with Sossion.
Trans Nzoia Knut official Makhino Waswa also took issue with TSC for undermining the union’s operations by starving its branches of funding running into millions of shillings.
Sossion has vowed he will not quit and accused the TSC of the woes facing him. “I was legally elected and I cannot be removed through demonstrations,” he said.
Teachers opposed to Sossion’s abrasive style of leadership have accused him of being behind the frosty relations between the union and the State. This is hindering negotiations on teachers’ promotions and salary increments.
They also accuse Sossion of not seeking their views before calling for the dissolution of TSC. A decision that Knut joins the umbrella of workers union Central Organisation of Trade Union of Kenya (Cotu) has also irked the teachers.
Nec members and their supporters stormed the Knut head office in Nairobi on Thursday to oust Sossion despite an ongoing court filed by the Knut boss against his removal.