Sossion has last laugh in Knut’s leadership battle

Thursday, October 3rd, 2019 12:00 |
Nominated MP Wilson Sossion. Photo/PD/FiLE

Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general Wilson Sossion has seemingly had the last laugh, as he emerged unscathed from the row pitting him against a faction headed by his deputy Hesbon Otieno.

It was yet another win for Sossion and his comeback rubber-stamped after the Registrar of Trade Unions, Elizabeth Gichehia, yesterday reinstated him as union boss.

Otieno, who had been appointed as secretary general in an acting capacity by the union’s National Executive Council (NEC) in August and his name submitted to the Registrar, has since been removed.

The move came just days after the Employment and Labour Relations Court ordered that Sossion remain in office despite his ouster. 

Stamp authority

Justice Hellen Wasilwa in her ruling last week said Sossion’s ouster was against the law and ordered Knut officials to comply with court order reinstating him within two weeks. 

She said NEC acted in contempt of court when they convened a meeting to remove Sossion.

“The union’s chairman Wycliffe Omuchenyi and the Registrar of Trade Unions are guilty of contempt of this court’s orders and have been given two weeks to comply with court order,” ruled the judge. 

Justice Wasilwa issued summons to the two to appear in court on October 8 to show why they should not be held in contempt of court for disobeying  September 2 order  re-instating Sossion. 

“The orders of September 2 will not be set aside but will remain in force until respondents show why they should not be punished for contempt,” she ruled. 

And to further stamp his authority, Sossion on Monday issued a circular to all branch secretaries indicating that Knut is back to its normal operations and all members of staff back and ready to serve.

“Please, be informed of the normal resumptions so that you can continue engaging the headquarters in the day-to-day operations,” said Sossion in the circular.

But even with the differences in opinion between the two factions in the union, Sossion last month stated that he holds no grudge against any official.

State position

“I hold no grudge at all against any of my colleagues in leadership and membership. I ask all my colleague officials and NEC members, let us cool down and go back to work.

We want a peaceful third term for purposes of candidates,” he said when the court reinstated him.

Despite his reinstatement, Knut steering committee, led by Omucheyi, barred Sossion from accessing the headquarters in Nairobi, saying he stands suspended.

Omucheyi stated the union would not sit and wait for an individual to destroy the union. 

The committee demanded that Sossion respect NEC’s decision and wait for the Annual Delegates Conference to state his position.

They had further indicated that Sossion could not purport to transact business on behalf of teachers since his name has not only been struck off the  Teachers Service Commission register but also from that of Registrar of Trade Unions. 

“The courts do not run the union, we have organs to discipline any member. The union will not die in the hands of one person, we will not allow the ship to sink… step aside and let us serve teachers of Kenya,” said Omucheyi.

Days later, the union, however, suffered a major setback when banks declined to recognise Otieno as a signatory to the union’s accounts. 

Knut has been dealing with financial constraints owing to lack of remittances for about three months, which has also contributed to unease between the two groups.

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