Reprieve as lecturers suspend planned strike for two weeks

Uasu chairman Muga K’Olale, Secretary General Constantine Wasonga and other union officials address the press in Nairobi yesterday. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

University workers has postponed their planned strike by two weeks in their push for the Sh8.8 billion salary increment.

The Saturday Standard established that the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) is waiting for the outcome of events at the Labour Court on February 4 when the National Treasury and the Ministry of Education will appear to give feedback on compliance.

The details emerged yesterday after a meeting of Uasu National Executive Council (NEC).

The top decision-making organ of the union comprises 42 university chapter secretaries.

Sources in the meeting revealed that a nationwide strike would have exposed the union to the court process, giving the government an upper hand to cite contempt.

Employment and Labour Court judge Maureen Onyango directed on December 18 last year that the National Treasury and Ministry of Education issue a report on payment compliance.

It emerged that Uasu adopted the new strategy after the Inter-Public Universities Consultative Forum (IPUCCF), Ministry of Labour and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) ganged up against the union.

Uasu Secretary General Constantine Wasonga yesterday said the three entities had engaged in “high-level insincerity”, pushing the union to retreat and regroup.

Mr Wasonga said the SRC had disowned its own master scales it issued on salaries computations and failed to disown its mistakes.

He said the IPUCCF, which had applied to have the 2017-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) filed at the Labour Court, had withdrawn its course and retreated.

“IPUCCF applied for registration of the CBA. When we went to court they rejected it again. Each member knows what is entitled to them signed by both parties,” Wasonga said.

Uasu said the Ministry of Education seems to have been working with the two to frustrate workers.

“We are surprised that the SRC, Ministry of Education and the vice chancellors committee had developed a new CBA and signed among themselves,” Wasonga said.

He said the union will only be party to the document that was agreed upon on October 28, 2019.

Wasonga said the interpretation of the CBA was done by the SRC, yet the commission retreated to rework the payment schedules without the union.

Uasu officials accused Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha of blocking the CBA from being registered in court on January 13.

“Prof Magoha, who had promised to talk to us is the one who blocked the registration of the mutually agreed CBA,” Wasonga said.

It emerged yesterday that the SRC, IPUCCF and the Ministry of Education had silently done fresh calculations in the absence of the union, stoking more trouble on the raging dispute on the right figure in the CBA.

Initially, IPUCCF had sided with the unions to oppose the Sh8.8 billion figure issued by the SRC.

The two said, based on the staff numbers, the total amount of money required to settle the salary deal for the 30,000 staff complete with pension component was Sh16.8 billion.