Union issues strike notice in row over funding, salaries

UASU National secretary general Constantine Wasonga with the National chair Grace Nyongesa and the National Vice chair Cyprian Ombati   during press briefing by Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) on October 7, 2022. [David Gichuru, Standard]

A fresh row has erupted over billions of shillings sent to private universities to support state-funded students as the academic staff union joined the list of those rejecting the move.

The Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) said lecture halls in public universities have remained empty as the government sent monetary support to students enrolled in private institutions.

And now, academic staff want this funding stopped and money channeled to public universities, a move they said will go a long way in stabilising the institutions.

In addition to this, the Union also wants government to review funding to facilitate proper remuneration of their members.

The details emerged during a media briefing on Friday by UASU officials led by Secretary General Constantine Wasonga. The briefing was held after the union's National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.

UASU also issued a seven-day strike notice to Egerton University to resume full pay of lecturers, which has presently been pegged at 57 per cent.

"As a union, we have resolved that we are not going to sit back and watch our colleagues from Egerton University continue to earn 57 per cent of salaries due to them," said Wesonga.

"On October 11, NEC resolved that it is going to give a seven days’ strike notice to Egerton University management and government that failure to pay everything that is owed to university staff, they will down their labour on October 17 and if they are not careful, it will cascade to all universities," he added.

The statement over billions sent to private universities will however ignite fresh debate as academic staff now join the management of public universities and some Members of Parliament (MPs), who have also openly opposed the initiative.

Wesonga said it is upon the government to now fund the universities adequately so that the perennial problems of non-implementation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and non-remittance of statutory deductions are eliminated.

Also, the lecturers want one-tier CBA negotiations so that they get uniform salaries. Presently, the union national office negotiates salaries and alowances for all workers under the first tier. The university chapters then retreat to hold internal negotiations with institutions' management.

Further, Wesonga said there is need for the government allocate money for mass recruitment of lecturers in public universities, as it does in primary and secondary schools.

Wesonga said failure by the government to employ more lecturers has caused many universities to rely on part-time lecturers, who are underpaid or sometimes not paid