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More agony for students as talks on lecturers strike flop

By Augustine Oduor | Published Sun, May 13th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 12th 2018 at 20:26 GMT +3
UASU Chairman Muga KO'lale(Left)KUSU Secretary General Dr Charles Mukhwaya(Centre)UASU Secretary General Dr Constantine Wasonga(Right) the lecturers are crying fowl that the vice chancellors have refused to share with them the counter offer from the Government.

In summary

  • Vice chancellors and university unions trade barbs over Saturday’s aborted meeting
  • Uasu says it will re-launch strike on Monday, dashing hope that three-month stalemate could be resolved soon

Blame games spoilt the party for 28,000 university staff after vice chancellors (VCs) failed to table an anticipated counter offer, citing lack of goodwill from the unions. 

University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu) officials termed the move by the vice chancellors to hold onto the offer, as fraud.

Uasu Secretary General Constantine Wasonga accused the public universities vice chancellors of planning to ‘mutilate’ the figures given by the government to suit their needs.

“This time you will not doctor the offer like you did previously,” said Wasonga.

Sunday Standard has however established that conditions set by the VCs are the reason the meeting aborted.

Saturday’s meeting at the Jacaranda Hotel, Nairobi, that started at 10am lasted a few hours with back and forth arguments on the conditions the VCs wanted the unions to meet before they table their offer.

Ground rules

Isaac Mbeche, the chairman of the joint negotiations committee, said the meeting was aimed at setting ground rules for the talks.

Prof Mbeche claimed the lecturers came to the negotiation table without good will, prompting a stalemate that may only be solved by the Ministry of Labour.

“You cannot come to the table with such huge baggage. We asked them to withdraw all court cases but they flatly refused,” said Mbeche.

He said the counter offer will only be tabled once the ground is level to accommodate all.

“We have a counter offer. But we’ll not table it until we agree on the goodwill. If not, the conciliator should step in to mediate,” said Mbeche.

Flanked by Kusu and Uasu officials, Wasonga however said it is the Inter Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) that lodged the court cases.

“It is them who went to court and so they must withdraw the cases,” said Wasonga.

What was to be tabled is a finding of the inter-ministerial committee formed by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to come up with an appropriate counter offer.

Stalemate

Saturday’s aborted meeting now means learning in universities may not resume as unions say they will re-launch the boycott Monday.

“We are going to mobilise our members to re-launch the strike afresh on Monday until such a time when they are ready to table the offer,” said Muga K’Olale, Uasu national chairman.

Individual universities have attempted to break the strike by asking some lecturers back to class.

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