By Bernice Mbugua @BerniceMuhindi
Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) secretary general Wilson Sossion has suffered a blow after Employment and Labour Relations Court upheld his deregistration as a teacher.
Justice Byram Ongaya who read the judgment on behalf of Justice Jorum Nelson Abuodha ruled that TSC had provided enough reasons to terminate his contract as a teacher.
“The court finds the petition is without merit and is hereby dismissed with costs,” ruled the judge.
TSC deregistered Sossion in January last year on grounds that he was nominated as a Member of Parliament.
Sossion moved to court accusing TSC of gross abuse of power and outright illegality intended to undermine the operations and perceived independence of KNUT.
He had claimed that other than a show-cause letter giving him seven days to make his representation, he had never been summoned to appear before TSC chief executive or displinary committee of TSC to defend himself.
In response, TSC had argued that Sossion’s leave of absence from teaching service was exclusively to the union and not to any other organisation or institution.
TSC argued that his assumption of office as Member of Parliament grossly breached the provisions of the code of Regulations for Teachers, Public Officer Ethics Act, Election Act and the code of Conduct and Ethics for Teachers.
“This in effect violated the terms and conditions of his contract of service,” TSC through its CEO Nancy Macharia had argued.
According to TSC, Sossion’s acceptance of the nomination to Parliament by a partisan political party was inconsistent with his position as a public officer and a teacher under their control and supervision.
According to Section 16(2) of the Public Officer Ethics provides that “a public officer shall not engage in political activity that may compromise or be seen to compromise the political neutrality of his office”.
In his ruling, Justice Abuodha said: “It is not for the court to scrutinise and over-analyse the reason for which employment contract has been terminated by the employer provided the reasons on the face of it are reasonable.”
Sossion had claimed that he was nominated on the special category to represent workers.
The judge, however, noted that TSC had granted him leave of absence to deal with affair of teachers.
“It is doubtful if such release could be extended to include nomination of Parliament by a partisan political party. To this extent, the court is satisfied that there existed valid reasons for termination of the petitioner’s contract as a teacher,” he ruled.
Sossion had further claimed that TSC violated Code of Regulations for Teachers by not first interdicting him and subjecting him to disciplinary hearing before termination.
The judge, however, noted that he was not in active teaching service and was a MP subject to Parliamentary Service Commission and interdicting him would not have had any effect.
“The show-cause letter issued to him and his response thereof was sufficient hearing under the circumstances.” Justice Abuodha ruled.