Raila wades into union, TSC supremacy war, calls for talks

Friday, January 8th, 2021 00:00 |
Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general Wilson Sossion addresses the Press at Parliament Building. Photo/PD/FILE

Mercy Mwai and Philip Yegon

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga has called for an end to the supremacy battle between the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) ahead of the union’s national elections, which kicks off this weekend.

In a statement to newsrooms yesterday, Raila told the two bodies to return to the table, go through the rulings of the court and resolutions of Parliament and begin a fresh journey of good faith that benefits all as it is clear that honesty is the missing link in the search for a solution to their dispute. 

The ODM leader, regretted that the standoff between the two bodies is not beneficial to anyone in the long chain of education stakeholders be it the teachers, the TSC, the pupils or even parents. 

“The parties don’t need to be permanently in court or at war. In fact, the courts have asked the two parties to negotiate.

On its part, TSC must appreciate its responsibility to support and protect teacher professionalism, teacher rights that include the right to belong to unions of their choice and teachers right to organise in order to check administrative power,” he said.

“In the long run, the absence of a strong and credible teachers’ union will be extremely costly to the country, making the current efforts against Knut deeply short sighted,” he added.

In his statement, Raila expressed concerns that the dispute between the two unions has increasingly degenerated into a major misunderstanding that is threatening to kill the organisation that has been the face of organised Labour in Kenya and a symbol of the country’s commitment to International Labour Organisation Convention.

According to him, dispute has the membership of Knut shrinking from a high of 187,000 to 23,000, its income dwindling from Sh144 million to Sh15 million against a salary portfolio of Sh80 million for over 600 workers spread across the country.

“The teachers may have been subdued and gone silent as a monumental movement they built from scratch since 1957, and which they took pride in, is brought to its knees. But they are certainly not happy,” he said.

The sentiments by Raila come at time when Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion is expected to face a titanic battle for survival during the elections.

This is after several Knut branches drawn from across the country threw their weight behind Kericho branch Secretary Stanley Mutai who has declared his interest in taking on Sossion in the forthcoming elections.

Yesterday, Sossion issued a raft of Covid-19 protocols to be observed during the elections, which kick off this Saturday in several sub counties in Rift Valley, Eastern and parts of Nyanza region.

Speaking yesterday, Mutai exuded confidence that he will clinch the seat come the elections saying he enjoyed support in several Knut branches including Bomet, Sotik and Buret besides several other branches drawn from Central, Western, Nyanza, Coast and Rift Valley.

“I have huge support and following from many Knut branches across the country. They are many.

In fact I can’t name them one by one. So you see change of guard at the Knut headquarters is inevitable,” Mutai asserted. 

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