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Sossion: KNUT elections happening despite financial problems

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has said that the union is able to fund branch and national elections that are set to begin on January 8, 2021.

KNUT had announced that the elections were to happen on January 4 but they had to reschedule the elections to January 8 as the initial date coincided with the reopening of schools.

Mr. Sossion said that KNUT members shall brave the financial crisis and elect office-bearers.

“With the support of our patterns, KNUT will conduct elections as planned. We will not fear. It is all systems go,” he said on Sunday.

Mr. Sossion had rightfully been worried earlier about how the elections would be conducted with very slim finances after the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) starved them for a period that has now lasted two years.

While addressing journalists at his Siongiroi home in Chepalungu, in Bomet County, Mr. Sossion urged KNUT members to be united as the problems “bedeviling the union will end soon”.

Declining Membership

The branches going to vote on January 8 are Borabu, Kisii Central, and Gucha.

On January 9, the branches that will vote are Bureti, Bomet, Sotik, Makueni, Baringo, Nzau, Kyuso, Mbooni, Kitui, Siaya, Mutomo, and Rarieda branches.

Six days later, Manga will elect new office –bearers.

Mr. Sossion, in recent times, admitted that the union is crippled financially and could not pay its employees, rent, or meet its costs of operation.

KNUT, in a little over a year, has lost more than KES. 1 billion after TSC stopped remitting membership contributions to the union.

The Union accused TSC of tinkering with the check-off system and illegally expunging members from KNUT’s register.

The membership has reduced from 187,471 to a meager 34,000 in just a year. Monthly contributions have dropped from KES 144 million to KES 25 million.

“We encourage those who have been removed from our register illegally to pay their subscription fees directly to our KNUT bank accounts and forward the slips to us,” said Mr. Sossion last month.

KNUT has proposed a two-year collective bargaining agreement to replace the existing four-year one in line with International Labour Organization standards.

CBA negotiations

The union is of the opinion that the current system disadvantages teachers.

He blamed TSC for illegally suspending a negotiated, valid, and legally signed pay deal for the 2017-2021 period “which has resulted in KNUT members being locked out of promotions”.

“Even as we push the CBA to be reinstated, we are preparing to negotiate for the next one,” said Mr. Sossion.

Even if we are going to agree on zero salaries, it must be contained in a negotiated, agreed, and signed CBA,” said Mr. Sossion

“If we allow messes in the education sector in Kenya to thrive, what do you expect of teachers in Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, and other regions? Stifling the rights of teachers in Kenya would reflect badly internationally and we would not allow that to happen”.  

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