Judge to Egerton: Resolve all your issues or crumble

Egerton University main gate. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard.]

A judge in Nakuru has advised Egerton University administration to sit down and resolve their issue, or else the university will crumble.

Justice David Nderitu of the Employment and Labour Relations court last week noted that the university is under threat over disputes among staff, administration, and students.

He noted that the university has hit the headlines in recent years for the wrong reasons, and the majority of the issues were in-house. “The recent cases have shown failures in the administration and employees to sit and resolve their cases,” said Nderitu.

He said that prolonged poor relationships among stakeholders in the institution affect the running of the university. “It is time for the people involved to engage in talks and resolve the dispute. It will be unfortunate if the institution crumbles,” he said.

Nderitu made the remarks when he declined to rule whether a November 15, 2021 strike by Egerton University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) was legal or not.

Nderitu ruled that it would be un-procedural for the court to rule on the legality of the strike since it was not pleaded in a claim filed on January 18, 2022.

The strike that persisted until March this year, saw some Uasu members deducted about 40 per cent of their salaries, while others up to 60 per cent of their salaries.

In his judgment on Thursday, Mr Njoroge ruled that it would be prejudicial to make a ruling that may affect the National Uasu union. “The national union must be involved in the case for the court to make the determination. Because the outcome may affect the national union,” ruled Nderitu.

He directed the University Council and Vice-Chancellor Professor Isaac Kibwage to file a case in relation to the legality of the strike and involve the national union. “There are no findings on the issues raised by the university,” he ruled.

The judge barred Prof Kibwage and the university from conducting disciplinary action against Egerton UasuU’s secretary Dr Grace Kibue.

The disciplinary action was supposed to commence on January 19, this year as per show cause letters sent to Dr Kibue on November 19 and 30, 2021.

Dr Kibue allegedly unlawfully issued the strike notice and interrupted studies and examinations by storming examination rooms.

The court, however, noted that she had the right to call on the strike.

He ruled that the action taken against her was discriminatory and biased, bearing in mind no action was taken against other Uasu members.

The judge ruled that no evidence proved Kibue stormed an examination room to stop lecturers from issuing examination papers.

No evidence according to the court showed that she illegally carried out her duties as a secretary. “It was unfair, illogical, and for her rights to be prejudiced by the university. The court must intervene and take action,” he ruled.

The judge ruled on a claim by Kibue, seeking to block her disciplinary process. She said she was being discriminated against and she had done nothing wrong.

On his part, Prof Kibwage said Kibue had no right to call the strike, was insubordinate and was interfering with the smooth running of the institution. “The claimant (Kibue) wrote a letter to UASU members urging them to boycott a meeting called by the VC,” read the university’s claim.