The fight between Knut Secretary General Wilson Sossion and the teachers’ employer escalated yesterday after the union official was finally de-gazetted and banned from teaching.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) Chief Executive Officer Nancy Macharia in a gazette notice dated October 29 said Sossion, TSC number 340096, will never teach in any Kenyan public or private school.
“Pursuant to section 30 of the TSC Act, the Commission has removed the name of the individual named hereunder (Sossion) from the Register of Teachers. Further, under the law, the individual cannot engage in teaching in any school,” reads the gazette notice.
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Sossion dismissed the move by TSC, terming it inconsequential. Sossion said he is still the bonafide Knut secretary-general and noted that striking off his name from the TSC register does not affect his position in the union.
TSC seems to have exploited a recent ruling after Employment and Labour Relations Court declared that the TSC was right to remove Sossion from its roll.
The court affirmed that Sossion’s interests in Parliament were that of the party (ODM) and not teachers, as he had argued.
ODM nominated Sossion to the National Assembly to champion the interests of workers. Justice Nelson Abuodha held that Sossion’s nomination put him on partisan political activity, which goes against his employer’s regulations.
“TSC has ably demonstrated that Sossion’s association and acceptance of nomination as MP on an ODM party ticket went against its tenets as an institution in charge of regulation and discipline of those in the teaching service,” Justice Abuodha ruled.
Justice Abuodha further ruled that: “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.”
Regulation 187 (1) and (2) of the Code of Regulations for Teachers also dictates that teachers who seek elective positions and hold trade union positions must resign or retire from service. In fact, the de-registration renders them non-eligible for leadership at the teachers’ unions.
The ruling left Sossion exposed even as he argues that his nomination was to represent workers in Parliament, hence he ought to be retained in the teachers’ register.
The development is a blow for Sossion who has survived ouster from his union officials through favourable court orders. The de-gazettement also comes as Sossion, who seemed to have backtracked from his combative leadership style, preached reconciliation between TSC and Knut.
A letter written by Sossion to Dr Macharia strikes a reconciliatory tone.
“Knut remains totally committed to normal industrial relations and we shall always endeavour to strengthen our relations with TSC to ensure goodwill and warm industrial relations,” Sossion said in the letter dated October 9.
Sossion said Knut will support smooth administration of this year’s national examinations and noted that Knut members fully back KCPE and KCSE management.
“We wish to state that in the Third Term we are desirous of good industrial relations and normalcy to enable us focus on national examinations as well as the Kenyan child as a central agenda,” Sossion said.
The de-gazettement however seems to indicate that the bad blood between the union and TSC is far from over.