Knut wrangles seem to be far from over this is after latest move by thirteen Knut branch secretaries who have defied their boss and penned a letter to TSC lamenting over his behaviour.
Knut membership has dwindled following mass exodus of members after TSC move to introduce parallel payrolls for Knut and Non-Knut members late last year.
In 2019 Knut top leadership was divided with some ganging up to oust Secretary Wilson Sossion over what they termed party dictatorship. However this attempt was unsuccessful after the Labour court upheld Mr Sossion as the legitimate Union secretary.
Below is a letter written by thirteen branch secretaries drawn from different counties addressed to TSC CEO Dr. Nancy Macharia.
“We, the thirteen KNUT branch executive secretaries drawn from six regions and representing the one hundred and ten branch executive secretaries with their mandate, having congregated at Nyeri on the 11” day of June, 2020 make a declaration that recognizes ourselves as teachers employed by the Teachers’ Service Commission and are on leave without pay.
That we are cognizant of the fact that article 41 of the constitution of Kenya 2010 recognizes the formation, joining and participating in the activities of a trade union and sub article 4(a) and (b) gives such trade union the right to determine its own administration programs, activities and to engage in collective bargaining with the employer.
The Kenya National Union of Teachers herein referred to as KNUT being no exception is administered as a public entity with rules and regulations set out in its constitution, Rules and Regulations revised in December 2015.
The said union operates within the statutes of the labor relation act, 2007. It has a signed recognition agreement with the Teachers’ Service Commission as provided for in part VII of the labor relations act, 2017.
However our common belief is that it is imperative for a trade union to strive to maintain industrial harmony with its relative employer for the benefit of its members. Under Article 1 section 1 of the KNUT constitution, the KNUT is registered both as a trade union and a profession organization constituted by its rules and regulations.
In view of the foregoing particulars, we the thirteen branch executive secretaries of the KNUT established under the Labour and Relations act, 2007 part III, section 25 sub section 1, 2 and 3 and being bonafide members and elected officials of the said union aver that we have a locus standi in this matter. Therefore jointly and severally we wish to address and petition your esteemed office. Our petition borders on the conduct of one Mr. Wilson Sossion who purports to be the secretary general of the KNUT and whose actions have been an infringement of teachers’ rights to join and remain in the KNUT as members, thus adversely affecting the operations of the said union as enshrined in the Labor relation action part II section 5 subsection 2(a).
The grounds that we intend to lay and prosecute our petition are as here-under;
1. The petitioners aver that the Kenya National Union of Teachers has no political inclination but a professional Trade Union registered under the trade unions Act cap 212 laws of Kenya.
2. The petitioners aver and support the continued recognition of the TSC as the sole employer of all the teachers in Kenya subject to the preamble under the TSC Act cap 212 laws of Kenya.
3. The petitioners recognize and fully support the decision of the CEO, TSC to deregister one Mr. Wilson Sossion as a teacher and the subsequent gazzetement of removal of the same person from the roll of the teachers’ register. In view of this, we invoke the provisions of the Labor Relations act, 2007 part VI, section 21 subsection 1 for your reference.
4. The NEC, by virtue of the powers conferred to it under Article IX C(7) of the KNUT constitution, has suspended Mr. Wilson session for a record three times. The petitioners, however, aver that the said person has rushed to the courts to block an official activity by a legitimate KNUT organ. This in turn has frustrated the officials of the union together with the teachers of this country. We do not recognize him as a legitimate secretary general of the KNUT and has no mandate to prosecute any business with the TSC or any government agent on behalf of the members.
5. The petitioners accuse Mr. Wilson of abuse of office contrary to section 46 of anti corruption and economic crimes Act premised on the following grounds
(a) Embezzlement of teachers’ strike fund amounting to 399 million.
(b) Deducting Third party and statutory deductions from full time employees of the KNUT and failing to remit the same to the relevant offices
(c) Failure to account to the NEC for all the funds received from donors therefore failing to adhere to the national values and principles of governance stated in article 10 ( c) of the constitution of Kenya. Accountability, being one of the national values and principles of governance should be adhered to.
( d) Borrowing money from lending banks in form of loans and overdrafts without the knowledge and authorization from the national trustees and members of the NEC whose functions have been clearly stated in article IX(c) of the KNUT constitution.
(e) Arbitrary suspending all meetings of the organs of the union which has rendered the union functionless to date. The petitioners aver that Mr. Sossion has been making personal decisions on behalf of NEC and communicating the same to the branches.
(f) Spending union funds without the authority of the ADC which is the supreme organ and which passes the union budget and authorizes the expenditure of the same.
(g) Hiring and firing of union workers without due regard to the employment act, cap 226 laws of Kenya.
(h) Declined to pay salaries for the branch executive secretaries after seeking litigation from the court sitting in Nakuru.
The petitioners aver that the consequences of Mr. Sossion’s actions have had adverse effects on the working conditions of teachers in the country hence causing the following damages;
1. He led KNUT delegation into signing the current CBA which he later opposed vehemently through his personal instigated strike threats to the TSC. This action in turn led to the introduction of two payrolls.
11. The introduction of two payrolls systems led to mass withdrawal of KNUT members. The union dues deducted from members drastically reduced and this being the only source of income led to branches failing to meet their financial obligations to the extent of being unable to pay salaries in full, auctioning of union branch properties, closing of branch offices and gross loss ofjobs.
111. Mr. Wilson Sossion has created a lot of anarchy in the Ministry of Education. His wild outbursts to disrupt the introduction of CBC led to some of the branch officials being victims of suspension and dismissal. Some have even died as a result of frustration. His wild behaviour and demeanour has caused the who education sector to be elusive since he publicly stated that he will never work with presidential appointees in the ministry and the TSC and other government departments.
In the view of foregoing, we pray that the following measures be taken to bring sanity and harmony in the KNUT;
1. That the TSC reconsiders its decisions to discipline those teachers who were incited by Mr. Sossion to disrupt the CBC training.
11. That the TSC rescinds the decision to introduce the two payroll system and put all teachers under the CPG and hence promote them to higher grades.
111. That the TSC kindly sets aside the process of online invalidation of teachers from the KNUT in view of retaining membership as it was by the month of June 2019.
iv. That the TSC stops further engagements with Mr. Wilson Sossion on behalf of the teac.;hcrs since they have lost confidence in him and further ceased to be the substantive secretary general of the KNUT immediately his removal from the teachers’ register was gazetted.
v. That the CEO kindly facilitates to meet the representatives of the branch executive secretaries who details are annexed hereto to pave way for further negotiations that will cultivate industrial harmony between KNUT and TSC.
The TSC and KNUT have over the years enjoyed a very cordial relationship with one single objective of improving the standards of education in this country. This situation changed the moment one Mr. Wilson Sossion grabbed KNUT leadership as the Secretary General through the back door.
With the continuous online invalidation of membership from the union, the life of KNUT hangs on the balance. KNUT is a potential employer who employees are currently undergoing insurmountable challenges. We therefore kindly request for your immediate indulgence to save the situation. Annexed Hereto is a signed list of committee members drawn from all regions and representing the one hundred and ten branch executive secretaries”