How state duped lecturers with Sh1,000 raise

University Academic Staff Union members in a solidarity stance during a meeting to press for higher pay. [David Njaaga, Standard]
The Government has offered striking workers as little as Sh53 in salary increments after nearly 75 days of learning disruption in public universities.

According to a breakdown of a Sh3.6 billion offer, the highest annual increment is Sh1,000 awarded to the highest paid professor.

Public institutions have remained shut after the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu) pulled their members out of the lecture halls.

The unions have rejected the offer, describing it as “provocative and grossly below the market value of universities academic staff”.

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“We reject the counter-offer in total, request the conciliator to issue the parties with a Certificate of Disagreement and refer the matter to the Employment and Labour Relations Court for determination,” said Uasu Secretary General Constantine Wasonga.

Rent increase

The unions said the average increase in rent alone was 10 per cent and argued that the increment was not sufficient to cushion their members.

Finer details of the Government offer, however, reveal that the lowest paid worker will get a Sh212 salary raise after full implementation of the four-year salary deal.

In its counter-offer, the Government committed to raise the pay of all university staff by 1.75 per cent.

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This means that under the four-year 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement, all 28,000 university workers will get an annual pay rise of 0.435 per cent.

If implemented, at the end of this year alone, the salary of the lowest-paid university staff will rise by a measly Sh53, from Sh12,100 to Sh12,153. By the end of four years, the worker will be earning Sh12,312.

This adjustment will affect members of the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha).

Kudheiha officials had earlier called off the strike as court cases mounted.

For Kusu workers, the lowest-paid staff will get an additional Sh85 at the end of this year, with their salary rising from the current Sh19,408 to Sh19,493. By the end of the fourth year, the salary will be Sh19,748.

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The highest-paid professor will earn an additional Sh1,081 at the end of this year, according to details of the counter-offer tabled by the universities to unions.

For teaching staff, a full professor who is paid Sh248,898 will earn Sh249,979 at the end of this year, with the figure rising to Sh253,253 by the end of the CBA.

The figures were tabled this week in a report submitted by an inter-ministerial committee formed by Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed to come up with an appropriate counter-offer for the workers.

While forming the team, Amina said the committee would determine a counter-offer for the 2017-2021 CBA and submit a report within two weeks. Isaac Mbeche, the chairman of the joint negotiations committee, tabled the counter-offer.

The Government offer is a major shift from the proposal made by vice-chancellors.

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Appearing before the National Assembly Education committee last month, VCs through the Inter-Public University Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) said they had requested Sh6.8 billion from the Government to settle the ongoing university workers' strike.

The VCs said the requisition would only cater for the first CBA year (2017-2018 financial year), with payments for subsequent years done in the form of capitation.

When computed, the VCs' request would translate to a 25-30 per cent pay rise. Overall, the total cost of the 2017-2021 CBA was put at Sh38 billion, a figure contested by the Government. Uasu and Kusu have demanded Sh10 billion for the first year of implementing the 2017-2021 CBA.

Pension arrears

Of this, Uasu said Sh6.5 billion would cater for salary increments for all 27,798 university workers, while Sh3.56 billion would cater for pension arrears.

In their demands, the unions wanted a professor paid a basic salary of up to Sh1.5 million per month while the lowest-paid academic staff – a graduate assistant – would earn Sh195,657.

In addition, the unions also demanded mortgage allowances and car loans, among other terms and conditions of service.

Top Uasu officials met yesterday and committed to escalating the strike until a better deal was reached.

Inside sources however indicated that the union was considering calling off the strike to pursue legal means and lobbying for a better offer.

lecturers strikeuasueducation cs amina mohammed