Union demands Sh5.2b in new salary deal as boycott begins

Dr. Constantine Wasonga, Secretary General UASU. PHOTO:WILBERFORCE OKWIRI

Students in public universities may stay home longer after lecturers went on strike to push for a Sh5.2 billion salary agreement.

Universities had closed for the October 26 repeat presidential election.

On Wednesday, the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) National Executive Council (NEC) approved the withdrawal of its 27,798 academic staff.

Secretary General Constantine Wasonga (pictured) accused universities of refusing to adjust workers' salaries to the new brackets negotiated under the 2013-2017 collective bargaining agreement.

“There were new salary adjustments that all staff were to receive based on the Sh10 billion new salary deal. Only five universities have made the adjustments,” he said.

Universities however said the strike was premature. Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) chairman Paul Kanyari said yesterday talks were still ongoing.

“The promise is there. We are negotiating and trying to get them to understand,” said Mr Kanyari.

The stalemate grew as it emerged the Government was yet to release capitation dues needed to move workers' pay slips upwards in line with the signed salary deal.

Vice chancellors of public universities said earlier they were experiencing a financial gap that could not allow them to effect new salary brackets. A letter by IPUCCF to Uasu said adjusting salaries would not be immediate.

“Public universities will continue to pay the salaries and house allowances to members of staff as at June 30, 2017, until the matter hereof is determined,” read the letter addressed to Mr Wasonga and copied to Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i, Principal Secretary Collette Suda and Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie.

Under the new deal, the new salary bracket for the lowest-paid assistant lecturer should move up to Sh82,037 from Sh69,794. The highest-paid assistant lecturer, earning Sh99,642, is expected to receive Sh117,121.

The lowest-paid lecturer at Sh83,361 per month is supposed to get Sh97,984.  And the highest-paid lecturer should take home Sh139,711 up from Sh118,861.

A senior lecturer earning Sh94,215 will get Sh110,742 per month while the highest-paid senior lecturer is set to earn Sh158,967 from Sh135,243.