Sossion still a teacher as court stops notice

Kenya National Union of Teachers secretary general Wilson Sossion. [File, Standard]

Embattled Knut secretary general Wilson Sossion is still a teacher.

This is after the same court that paved way for him to be de-registered suspended Teacher Service Commission's (TSC) notice spelling the end of Sossion’s career as a teacher.

The notice will remain suspended until the case he filed before the labour court challenging the sack is heard and determined.

Sossion says he risks being thrown out as the Knut secretary-general of the body following the move by TSC to remove him from teachers’ register after he was nominated as a Member of Parliament by the Orange Democratic Movement.

“The purported removal of the first petitioner from the register of teachers would have the effect of disqualifying him from holding office in the second petitioner, the Kenya National Union of Teachers, in which he was elected to serve as Secretary General,” Sossion’s lawyers Paul Muite and John Mbaluto told Labour Court judge Stephen Radido on Monday.

The Labour Court had earlier cleared him to hold the two positions - MP and Knut SG and also held that he can contest and retain the seat even if he is not a teacher.

Justice Maureen Onyango, however, observed that Sossion’s position as Nominated MP does not interfere with his work as Knut secretary general.

According to the judge, MPs are allowed to earn a living away from the august House as long as it does not conflict or interfere with their work to their constituents. She found that the Nominated MP has no constituents looking up to him for services hence he can earn a living from the union.

Holding office

“It is clear that the section read alone does not bar an MP from holding any other office. And it is not in doubt that an MP can also seek other gainful employment. A secretary general may be a person not engaged in the sector,” she ruled.

At the heart of the battle between Sossion and seven union members was whether he could hold two offices at the same time. In a different judgment, the court declared that TSC was right to de-register him as he had defied regulations that employees should not engage in partisan politics and threw out Sossion’s case against TSC.

Justice Nelson Abuodha in his decision in July ruled that the Nancy Macharia-led commission was right to show him the door as his interests in Parliament were that of the party that nominated him and not teachers as he had argued.

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,” Macharia wrote to Sossion. “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 seek elective positions and hold trade union positions must resign or retire from service.