Wilson Sossion woes pile as sacking upheld

Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion. [File, Standard]
Wilson Sossion’s reign at the helm of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) hangs in the balance after the court upheld his deregistration as a teacher.

The blow came as the Sossion-led union suffered yet another setback after the court suspended its orders on teachers’ appraisals.

The Labour Court in Nairobi yesterday declared that the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) was right to show him the door as his interests in Parliament was that of the party and not teachers as he had argued.

This leaves his seat as Knut’s secretary-general in limbo as the union membership, and therefore leadership, is strictly for registered teachers.

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Sossion, who was nominated to the National Assembly by the Orange Democratic Movement, moved to court after TSC deleted his name from the list of registered teachers.

His contention in the case was that his nomination was to represent workers in Parliament, hence he ought to be retained in the teachers’ register.

But Justice Nelson Abuodha held that his nomination put him on partisan political activity which goes against his employer’s regulations.

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“The respondent (TSC) has ably demonstrated that the petitioner’s association and acceptance of nomination as MP on ODM party ticket went against its tenets as an institution in charge of regulation and discipline of those in the teaching service,” ruled Justice Abuodha.

“Teachers code of conduct and ethics ( 2015) require teachers to maintain political neutrality at all times and not act in a manner that may compromise or be perceived to compromise their neutrality”.

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The judge however declined to suspend the other orders on teachers’ promotions, transfers and whether head teachers can vie for union positions.

Political seat

The court declined to fault TSC for not interdicting Sossionbefore firing him after finding it would have been of no use as he had already been sworn in as MP.

The commission wrote to Sossion and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Chairman Omboko Milemba last year informing them that they are no longer teachers. Milemba is an elected MP, serving Emuhaya constituency. 

“The commission has decided to terminate your services as a teacher with effect from January 15, 2018,” TSC Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia wrote to Sossion.

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“It has been noted that you were nominated as a Member of Parliament yet the Commission has not received your resignation or retirement letter.”

Regulation 187 (1) and (2) of the Code of Regulations for Teachers dictates that teachers who seeks elective positions and hold trade union positions must resign or retire from service. In fact, the deregistration renders them non-eligible for leadership at the teachers' unions.

In yet another blow to Sossion and Knut in a separate judgement, the Labour court suspended its orders on teachers’ appraisals. Justice Byrum Ongaya reviewed the orders which required TSC to validate the appraisals by December 1 for roll out in 2020 to having the appraisals immediately or soonest.

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