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Hope as striking lecturers meet state officials today

EDUCATION
By Lonah Kibet | February 1st 2017
Technical University of Mombasa students protest against the ongoing lecturers’ strike. They threatened to join their teachers on the streets if the strike was not resolved in three days. [PHOTO: GIDEON MAUNDU/STANDARD]

University lecturers are willing to suspend their strike if they get a reasonable pay offer from the Government today.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) chairman Muga K'olale said they would suspend the strike to allow for negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.

"We met the Education Cabinet Secretary yesterday and agreed that the suspension of the strike would depend on the credibility of a counter offer. If and when the Government tables the counter offer, we will be willing to take only three days to produce a mutually agreed CBA," said Mr K'olale.

He claimed there was laxity on the part of the Government and university councils to resolve the matter speedily.

"We are disturbed that the Government is inordinately slow in resolving the industrial stalemate. Besides, it beats resonance and logic why the university councils and the vice chancellors are not co-operating to end the stalemate," he said.

The union is expecting a counter proposal today as directed by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang'i.

A request by Dr Matiang'i last week for the lecturers to call off the strike and make room for negotiations was ignored following a national executive committee meeting.

They accused the Government of failing to table a substantive counter offer.

Inter-Public University Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) chairman Ratemo Michieka has maintained that talks to resolve the strike are ongoing through a universities joint negotiations committee.

The lecturers went on strike on January 19, demanding harmonised salaries and allowances.

Their union's Secretary General Constantine Wasonga said there was a dire need to restructure payments within the institutions to address huge disparities.

Concerns in the current salary structure include huge conventional salary differentials between consecutive grades and vague payments for different levels among others.

Mr Wasonga maintained that lecturers were withdrawing their services and the strike would go on until a 2013-2017 collective bargaining agreement was negotiated, signed, registered and an implementation schedule agreed.

The union is also expected in the Employment and Labour Relations Court today for the hearing of their pay dispute case to be presided over by Justice Hellen Wasilwa.

The union has already instructed its lawyers to appear in court and present the status of pay negotiations.

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