University lecturers strike looms over Sh8.8 billion salary deal

KUSU, UASU and KUHEIHA members at the Technical University of Mombasa want collective bargaining agreements implemented.  [Robert Menza, Standard]

Learning in public universities will be disrupted from Monday next week as the teaching staff union issue a seven-day strike notice over the implementation of the Sh8.8 billion salary deal.

Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) has notified public universities Councils over their intention to withdraw services next week.

“Our members in all public universities and their constituent colleges shall withdraw their labour and shall not resume duty until the CBA is fully implemented,” said UASU secretary-general Constantine Wasonga.

Wasonga says the universities have failed to fully implement the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as was negotiated and signed by both parties.

Wasonga also says that efforts to initiate dialogue with universities to amicably resolve the matter had hit a dead end.

“By this letter, therefore, the UASU hereby issues a seven-day strike notice with effect from the date of this letter to the 35 Councils of public universities and their constituent colleges,” said Wasonga.

The letter is dated August 23 and is copied to Cabinet Secretaries and principal secretaries under the ministries of Education and Labour.

All vice-chancellors of the universities and principals of the constituent colleges have also been notified.

At the center of the stalemate is the full implementation of the Sh8.8 billion that was to benefit 30,000 members of Uasu, Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospital and Allied Workers (Kudheiha).

The first installment of Sh6.6 billion was released to all universities last year with the Sh2.2 billion being disbursed to the universities monthly to cover all workers.

The union officials have however accused vice-chancellors of implementing the CBA using a skewed formula, resulting in major pay disparities.

According to UASU, the money was to cater for salary arrears and adjustment of workers’ salaries to new scales.

If the salaries were adjusted, professors who earn a minimum salary of Sh170, 681 per month would have their pay increased to Sh180, 434 in the first year of implementation and Sh190, 187 in the second year.

The salaries would further go up to Sh199, 940 and Sh209, 693 for the third and fourth years, respectively.

The VCs have however been split on this matter with some arguing that the money could only pay arrears and was not adequate to adjust workers’ salaries to new scales.

In the end, some universities have paid salary arrears and also adjusted workers’ salaries while a majority have not.

In a petition to parliament, Wasonga said only seven universities, out of the 35, adjusted salaries to reflect new scales.

Only Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, Chuka University, Kibabii University, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Garissa University, Alupe University College and Kaimosi Friends University College have complied with the June 3, 2020 court order on adjustment of staff pay.

But in his notice of strike to public universities, Uasu says that all the institutions have erred in their implementation of the CBA.

“The strike will be a protest to the blatant violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of universities academic staff,” said Wasonga.

He also said that the strike will protest the unconstitutional and unlawful violation of the constitution of Kenya articles 41(1) (2a) and (5).

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