The ouster of indefatigable trade unionist Wilson Sossion fromthe helm of the giant Knut has been work in progress for the last few years.
The ouster of indefatigable trade unionist Wilson Sossion (pictured) from the helm of the giant Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) has been work in progress for the last few years.
The writing has been on the wall. Plans had been meticulously hatched. And as the days progressed, Sossion’s removal as Knut secretary general became a matter of when, not if.
The fiery unionist, who has had running battles with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) over a raft of issues, admits that it is not just the teachers’ employer which has been baying for his ouster.
The commission, he says, has conveniently been the catalyst to speed up the process. During a press briefing on Wednesday at Parliament Buildings, the unionist, also a nominated MP, blamed his woes on the top political leadership.
“Do you think this is a small battle? You think those bankrolling a section of the NEC (National Executive Committee of Knut), just targeting one individual are small people?… Even you, you can surely see it. That is why I am saying TSC and others, and they know themselves”.
“There are political leaders in this country afraid of a powerful trade union, and we want to tell them to let trade unions be. They now think that removing Sossion, they will kill Kut. Sossion is just but an individual, he will go when his time is up, but the union will remain,” said Sossion.
But questions have been raised as to why the abrasive trade unionist was a marked man. He has lately become so exposed even among his peers, who have hitherto offered their loyal support to him, especially in his battles with the government over teachers’ welfare.
TSC has deregistered the embattled Sossion as a teacher arguing that his entry into politics where he serves as ODM nominated MP had compromised his neutrality and thus going against the Code of Conduct and Ethics of teachers. The position has been upheld by the Employment and Labour Relations court.
This deregistration is seen as a technical way of kicking him out of the leadership of the union, as the Knut Constitution requires that an official must be a registered teacher.
Though he has been at loggerheads with the Government and the TSC over his unrelenting fight for improved terms for the 190,000 members of the Knut, seemingly, it is his hard stance against rolling out of the new Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC), to replace the 8-4-4 system of education that has accelerated the push for his ouster.
The trade unionist has been opposed to what he terms as the rush in implementing CBC, even being seen as the force behind disruptions of sessions where teachers were undergoing training on the curriculum.
Skipped the launch
He has been involved in rows with the Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha, who it appears has been tasked by the President to ensure full implementation of the system, after his predecessor Amina Mohammed appeared to stutter.
In May, Knut skipped the launch of the National Curriculum Policy of the CBC, with Sossion writing a hard-hitting letter to Prof Magoha and copied to TSC CEO Nancy Macharia, where he said their conscience did not allow them to participate in “flawed exercise which lacks legitimacy, and where there was no public participation.”
“Knut shall not be used to validate an illegal policy whose development is surrounded in mystery,” Sossion said in the letter.
The bad blood between Sossion and the Government culminated in the locking out of Sossion and his Knut officials from the Ministry of Education’s National Conference in Nairobi on August 16. The trade unionists arrived at the conference hall, only to find their names missing on the list of participants neither were there badges for them.
Meanwhile, in a move that Sossion argues is meant to cripple Knut and with him as the sole target, in July and August, TSC failed to remit teachers deductions to the union.
“We were told this was as a result of a technical hitch. That is why TSC allegedly did not deduct and further remit the dues to Knut. But we ask, do they have incompetent IT officials at TSC? If so they should fire them,” he said.
And in what has been translated in some quarters as a tactic to set up Sossion against teachers, the TSC in July left out Knutmembers from the third phase of the Sh13 billion salary increment.