Labour secretary Phyllis Kandie has ordered 11 politicians to relinquish their trade union positions, opening a fresh battlefront with the teaching fraternity.
Ms Kandie fired the first shot in what is expected to be a protracted battle with the publication of a notice stripping Kenya National Union of Teachers’ secretary-general Wilson Sossion and chairman of Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Omboko Milemba of their union posts.
But Mr Sossion dismissed the gazette notice as inconsequential insisting only the Registrar of Trade Unions can strip any official of his position.
“I can only regret that (Ms) Kandie is also engaging in the dirty politics,” Mr Sossion said, adding he had no plans of giving up his role in Knut.
Mr Sossion is an ODM nominated MP while Mr Omboko was elected on August 8 to represent Emuhaya Constituency on Amani National Congress ticket.
“It is notified for general information of the public that the following persons, being state officers as per provisions of articles 77 and 260 of the Constitution cease to hold office immediately as trade union officials in their respective unions,” the notice said.
Article 77 of the Constitution states that a full-time State officer cannot participate in any other gainful employment while Article 260 identifies governors, members of parliaments and members of county assemblies among the State officers.
“This notification to vacate office applies to all trade union officials holding either nominated or elective positions in any County Assembly or Parliament,” the gazette notice says.
The list of teachers’ union officials named in the notice includes Nyeri Governor Edward Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri Knut branch’s executive secretary), Baringo Governor Stanley Kiptis (Koibatek Knut executive secretary) and Ronald Tonui, the Bomet Central MP who is fighting a fierce court battle to retain his assistant national treasurer position in Kuppet.
Union of Kenya Civil Servants secretary-general Tom Odege (Nyatike MP), Kuppet national secretary in charge of gender Catherine Wambilyanga (Bungoma’s Woman Representative), and Ms Florence Bore (Kericho County Woman Representative) who was Kuppet Kericho branch secretary up till last year’s elections have also been asked to vacate office.
Five Kuppet officials have also been elected to serve as MCAs in the county assemblies. The directive, which is set to test Ms Kandie’s powers, comes hot on the heels of a High Court decision that blocked Mr Tonui from defending his union position in last year’s election citing his conflicting role as an MP.
Mr Tonui, who was elected to parliament in 2013 has since taken the contest to the Court of Appeal.