By Dennis Matara and Githinji Mwangi.
Embattled Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) secretary-general Wilson Sossion says he is not a pushover, who can easily be removed from office by NEC members.
KNUT’s National Executive Council (NEC) members have Constitutional powers to sack a sitting union official on grounds of indiscipline.
Speaking at Parliament Buildings on Wednesday, August 28, Mr Sossion said he has learnt that “financially-gullible”NEC members “have been promised they would be given money after ejecting him from office”.
Mr Sossion’s statement comes on the back of a spirited push by a section of NEC members to have the sec-gen fired over claims that he is responsible for the withholding of KNUT officials’ and staff members’ salaries by the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC).
KNUT receives Ksh140 million monthly from TSC as union dues. For two months now, the union is allegedly yet to receive the monies collected from teachers’ monthly salaries countywide.
And, as the pressure to have him kicked out mounts, Mr Sossion says he is “not a Slay Queen, who the NEC members can easily exchange for money”, vowing to stay put until his term as KNUT sec-gen ends in 2021.
“There is nowhere I am going. Let them (TSC) use money [to entice the NEC members] as much as they wish, but I am going nowhere,” said Mr Sossion, adding: “I am not a Slay Queen to be exchanged for money.”
The vocal trade unionist was, in January 2018, deregistered as a professional teacher by TSC after he accepted nomination to Parliament under the ODM ticket. That removal from the teachers’ register, paved way for talks of his ejection from the powerful KNUT post.
And those talks have culminated into a near-real possibility of the removal of Mr Sossion from office, with several NEC members of KNUT vowing to hold a meeting on Thursday, August 29, to send Mr Sossion packing.
The NEC members said on Wednesday that they will proceed with the Thursday, August 29, meeting, which Mr Sossion postponed in a letter dated August 26. The sec-gen did not give reasons for his decision.
And now, KNUT NEC members say with or without Mr Sossion’s presence, the disputed Thursday convention will go on.
The NEC members’ planned convention comes on the back of a court order obtained by KNUT, through Mr Sossion, who claims that the executive council members planning to meet “have been paid for their presence”.
According to Mr Sossion, the Thursday meeting “has been well-funded and orchestrated by powerful individuals who want the union to collapse”.
The nominated MP further says “it would be nonsensical to have him ejected from office” at a time union officials and staff are fighting to have their 2-months’ salary arrears paid.
But, a section of the NEC members want to hear none of it.
“We shall meet at KNUT House in Nairobi tomorrow (August 29). Our key agenda is to remove Sossion from the post he is currently holding at KNUT,” said Kirinyaga County Executive Secretary, Javan Wachira.
The Kirinyaga KNUT rep says 30 out of the 39 NEC members have already endorsed the proposal to send home the firebrand trade unionist.
“We have the numbers to make Sossion leave office. Thirty of us have already ratified our agenda to force Sossion out of office. Only nine members are supporting him,” said Mr Wachira.
Mr Wachira’s sentiments were echoed by other Central Kenya NEC members drawn from Murang’a, Nyandarua, Kiambu and Nyeri.
In regard to the deregistration of any KNUT member, including union officials, the body’s Constitution says: “It shall be lawful for the National Executive Council to discipline any member of the Union in any way it may deem necessary whether by censure, fine, suspension, expulsion; and any member expelled forfeits all rights.”