The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Kirinyaga branch officials have threatened to take legal action against nominated Member of Parliament (MP) Wilson Sossion should the legislator not resign from his post as the union’s Secretary General following his swearing-in to the National Assembly, which took place Thursday, August 31.
Outgoing Kirinyaga branch KNUT Secretary General, Harrison Muriithi Gichira, said Sossion cannot be trusted to effectively lobby for the betterment of the welfare of Kenyan teachers, given many responsibilities on his plate.
Gichira accuses Sossion of dishonesty, saying he (Sossion) had promised teachers that he would turn down the offer of his nomination to the National Assembly by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party because “the teachers did not want me to leave union representation”.
Gichira has demanded Sossion resigns from KNUT post as soon as possible or else he, alongside other KNUT officials, will seek legal redress against him.
In July this year, Sossion came under fire from teachers for allegedly using his position in the union to advance his then-political interests after claims that he said the teaching fraternity was fully behind the National Super Alliance (NASA) ahead of the general election.
KNUT Kiambu branch chairman Samuel Muiruri, Kiambu East executive secretary Clement Gicharu and his treasurer Rahab Nyambura, during a press conference in Kiambu town on July 3, expressed their anger at Sossion, saying he was free to back a political outfit of his choice, but it was wrong to purport it was the union’s position and to use it to earn political mileage.
Wilson Sossion and Mudzo Nzili were on March 4, 2016 re-elected into office as KNUT Secretary General and Chairman respectively.
The entire national steering committee leaders voted in the two KNUT leaders unopposed in what was seen as confidence by teachers
The re-election in 2016 meant Sossion was to serve as the union’s Secretary General till 2021, when his five-year term would end.
From being a student at Egerton University, Sossion taught in Kericho High School and later St. Teresa Girls’ High School in Elgeyo Marakwet before joining Tenwek High School as a teacher.
While in Tenwek – in 2006 –, Sossion contested for the Assistant Executive Secretary’s position for Bomet and won.
That same year, he was also elected to the National Executive Council. A rare feat, given it is not easy for a newly elected branch official to sit in the NEC.
A year later, he was elected the second Vice National Chairman and climbed to first Vice National Chairman in 2009.
In June 2011, Sossion, a father of three, was elected national chairman.
Even as calls for Sossion’s resignation from KNUT post continue to rent the air, the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) on Thursday, August 31 asked teachers’ union officials headed to the 12th Parliament not to relinquish their positions.
COTU Secretary General, Francis Atwoli, said the position of COTU is that KNUT and Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (KUPPET) officials elected or nominated to the National Assembly or Senate should not quit but instead champion the rights of workers in both Houses.
Other union officials who will be in the 12th Parliament – either via nomination or election – include: KUPPET Chairman Omboko Milemba and assistant national treasurer Ronald Tonui, who won the Emuhaya and Bomet Central MP seats respectively.
KUPPET Gender Secretary, Catherine Wambilianga, is the Bungoma Woman Representative while Nyatike MP,Tom Odege, is the Secretary General of the Union of Kenya Civil Servants.
According to Atwoli, there is no law that prohibits union official from seeking election or being nominated to the National Assembly or the Senate.
Atwoli cited veteran trade unionists such as the late Tom Mboya, Dennis Akumu, Fred Kubai and Juma Boy who were elected to Parliament while still union officials.
(Additional reporting by Johnson Muriithi)