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Unionists defy Kandie order to vacate posts

Harrison Kivisu, Murimi Mutiga and Irene Githinji @PeopleDailyKe

The government directive to bar State officers from holding trade union posts was yesterday met with defiance even as the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) threatened to move to court over the matter.

Cotu-K secretary general Francis Atwoli termed as unwarranted and illegal, the decision by Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie to issue such a directive to trade union leaders.

Describing it is an outright misguided application of the spirit and letter of the law, Atwoli said the union has already given instructions to its lawyers to move to court under a certificate of urgency with a view to quashing the order.

He spoke even as embattled Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) secretary general Wilson Sossion told off Kandie over her demand that he relinquishes his position as official of the teachers union.

He said he is in Knut to stay and will not be intimated by the Gazette Notice. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Nominated MP asked Kandie to stop interfering with trade union matters and accused her of playing politics to split and weaken the giant teachers union.

“I am not going anywhere. This is a trade union not a government entity. I am the Knut secretary general. Let the delegates decide. We are not leaving, we are here and there,” said Sossion while addressing Knut Annual Delegates Conference in Mombasa.

Sossion spoke a few minutes after some union officials attempted to eject him from the conference in Mombasa Chaos erupted during the meeting at Wild Waters when a group of delegates from Central region stormed the meeting chanting slogans against Sossion whom they demanded that he quits as directed by the gazette notice published on Wednesday.

Kandie asked Sossion and 10 other union leaders to relinquish their positions as required by Section 77 of the Constitution following assumption of new roles as legislators.

The annual delegates conference started smoothly but trouble started after some delegates stormed the meeting while chanting and singing songs denouncing the nominated MP.

One person was injured after being hit on the head with a chair as delegates fought. Police had to disperse them. War of words, chants, cheers and jeers ensued as another camp supporting Sossion came to his defence.

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