Sossion survives, yet again as court overrules ouster

Thursday, September 5th, 2019 00:00 |
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary-general Wilson Sossion. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

An attempt by Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) top decision-making organ to remove secretary-general Wilson Sossion from office flopped for the second time yesterday.

National Executive Council’s (NEC) plea was thrown out after the Employment and Labour Relations Court directed that orders issued on Monday, that Sossion should not be removed from office, will remain in force until the case contesting his ouster is determined.

Justice Hellen Wasilwa said she cannot grant the orders ex parte and instead ordered NEC to serve Sossion and other parties their application.

Fresh orders

NEC had filed a fresh application seeking to have the orders reinstating the embattled SG be vacated.

And when separately contacted, Sossion said he is back in the office and “fully discharging my duties as should be”.

At the same time, the court declined Knut’s request to refer a suit against Teachers Service Commission (TSC) compelling it to remit union dues which are yet to be availed three months later to the dispute resolution mechanism.

TSC had argued that the matter was still new and the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

Through lawyer Calvin Anyuor, TSC argued that in the process of separating the payroll for the two categories of teachers created as a result of the judgment, the commission ran into a technical hitch which affected the deduction of the union dues and that the dues would be paid once the system has been restored.

Last week, Knut through lawyer Paul Muite, filed the application arguing that union activities will be crippled, should the trend continue.

“It is not proper to misinterpret the judgment then use that misinterpretation to violate that judgment. We already have ordered, that TSC should deduct the union dues. We served the orders on TSC but it has not complied,” he said.

TSC had also filed an application before justice Byram Ongaya, asking him to suspend the implementation of the June 12 judgment stating the effect it will have on the teachers’ payroll but the judge declined to grant such orders.

The two cases will be mentioned on September 10.

Sossion was on Monday allowed accessing Knut bank accounts held at Kenya Commercial Bank, Equity Bank and Standard Chartered Bank so union’s operations are not unnecessarily affected pending the determination of the case.

Status quo

Justice Wasilwa further directed a status quo be maintained at the union, where all previous Knut officials are to remain in office pending determination of the case.

Following reinstatement, Sossion seemingly extended an olive branch to his adversaries saying: “Let me declare I am not an enemy of anyone. As Wilson Sossion, I hold no grudge at all against any of my colleagues in leadership and membership.”

Sossion assured members all was well saying Third Term was critical and it was important they work in peace in the union.

“I ask all colleagues, officials and members of the National Executive Council, let us cool down and go back to work. Each has its own office, job description and duties. We want a peaceful third term for purposes of candidates,” he added.

He said the union is firm and strong and welcomed dialogue to future conflicts.

“Nothing can be sorted out on the dialogue table. Never again should the union face this type of attack and if there are issues, we should be able to handle them meticulously and in the most diplomatic manner, unlike the situation, we are thrown in at the moment.” - Nancy Gitonga and Irene Githinji 

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