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Knut elections to go ahead despite financial hitches, Sossion insists

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Knut elections to go ahead despite financial hitches, Sossion insists by Kenyans247(1): Mon 28, December, 2020 09:27am
Despite financial woes, the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) is in a position to fund branch and national elections that begin on January 8, 2021, Secretary-General Wilson Sossion has said.

The union had earlier announced that the elections would be conducted on January 4 but the date had to be moved as it coincided with the reopening of schools.

Mr Sossion said Knut members would brave the financial crunch and elect office-bearers.

“With the support of partners, Knut will conduct the elections as planned. There should be no fear. It is all systems go,” he said yesterday.

Mr Sossion is on record saying the union could not fund its countrywide elections after being starved of funds by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in a dispute that has lasted two years.

Addressing journalists at his Siongiroi home in Chepalungu, Bomet County, Mr Sossion called on union members to be united “as the problems bedevilling us will end soon”.


Declining membership
The branches that will go to the polls on January 8 are Borabu, Nyamira, Gucha and Kisii Central.

Bomet, Bureti, Baringo, Sotik, Makueni, Nzaui, Kyuso, Mbooni, Kitui, Mutomo, Siaya and Rarieda branches will hold theirs on January 9 while Manga will elect new office-bearers six days later.

Mr Sossion recently admitted that Knut was on its knees financially and could not pay its employees, rent or meet operational costs.
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In slightly more than a year, the union has lost more than Sh1 billion after the TSC stopped remitting membership contributions.

The union accuses the commission of tinkering with the check-off system and illegally expunging members from its register.

The membership has fallen from 187,471 to just 34,000 in a year, with monthly contributions dropping from Sh144 million to Sh25 million.

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

The Knut has proposed a two-year collective bargaining agreement to replace the current four-year one in line with International Labour Organisation standards.

CBA negotiations
The union says the current system disadvantages teachers.

He accused the TSC of illegally suspending a negotiated, valid and legally signed pay deal for the 2017-21period “which has resulted in Knut members being locked out of promotions”.

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

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

He added, “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,”

Mr Sossion told a press conference at his Motigo home last month that there were repeated attempts by TSC to arm-twist top union leaders and branch officials to oust him from office so that the financial taps can be re-opened and members allegedly reinstated.


“We are aware that TSC top guns have been inciting union officials in a divide and rule tactic with a view to ousting me from office in the pretext that once it is done, the funds which have been withheld will then be released to KNUT,” claimed Mr Sossion

vkimutai@ke.nationmedia.com
https://nation.africa/kenya/news/knut-elections-to-go-ahead-despite-financial-hitches-sossion-insists--3240946

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