More than 30,000 university staff will have to wait longer to enjoy the perks negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement.
This is after public universities council chairpersons and vice chancellors yesterday failed to agree on the payment of a Sh6.6 billion salary boon.
A meeting of the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum resolved to refer the matter back to the Ministry of Education for advice after it emerged that the basis for paying the salaries was clouded in uncertainty given that the matter is still pending in court.
This came as University Education and Research Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi wrote and instructed the universities to confirm payment of the salary arrears and remittance of all statutory deductions.
In his letter, Amb Nabukwesi stated that the Sh6.6 billion covers a basic salary increment, annual increment, pensions and gratuities.
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But the unions have insisted that apart from the salary increment, the agreement had no provision for paying the other components and this is why the matter was in court for legal interpretation.
Also in dispute is the retirement age for academic workers, with proposals of 65 and 75 years to be decided by the court.
The money is part of the disputed Sh8.8 billion from the 2017-2021 agreement signed between workers' unions and universities management in October last year.
MPs approved payout of the money in a supplementary budget with the funds expected to cover salary debts from June 2017 to June this year.
The beneficiaries are members of the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu), the Kenya University Staff Union and the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers.
A breakdown of the allocated funds reveals that the University of Nairobi will receive the biggest share of Sh1.2 billion.
Kenyatta University will get Sh677 million, Moi University Sh610 million, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Sh547 million, Egerton University Sh396 million, Technical University of Kenya Sh320 million, Maseno University Sh256 million and the University of Eldoret Sh253 million.
Others are Kisii University which will receive Sh212 million, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology Sh206 million, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology Sh143 million, Maasai Mara University Sh125 million and Dedan Kimathi University Sh102 million.
Tharaka University College will get Sh15 million while Bomet University will receive the least allocation of Sh11 million.
In a May 5 letter, Vice Chancellors' Committee chair Geoffrey Muluvi instructed all VCs not to pay the enhanced salaries, saying that previous agreements have not been registered and that no interim agreement has been signed.
“During a meeting of VCs and principals of constituent colleges held virtually on April 23, it was agreed that implementation of the CBA for Uasu, Kusu and Kudheiha will be done once the CBAs are registered with the industrial court or an interim agreement between all the parties is agreed upon and duly signed,” said Prof Muluvi.
Uasu Secretary General Constantine Wasonga said universities and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission are pushing for a payment scheme that will disadvantage workers.
The union estimates that workers will have lost up to Sh3 billion from the salary money if a vertical and horizontal salary raise is not factored.
“They have adopted to ignore the diagonal implementation of the master scale, which has been the practice every year because it factors in the annual salary increment of workers. Ignoring that means that they have decided to steal our money to benefit them,” said Dr Wasonga.
In the 2017-2021 CBA, workers were offered a cumulative salary award of between 23.14 per cent for high earners and 25.07 per cent for the least-paid staff.
This translates to an yearly raise of between 5.75 per cent and 6.27 per cent. Under the negotiated salary deal, workers were to benefit from an annual increment of about four per cent, adding up to 16 per cent for the entire four-year CBA duration.
If the Sh8.8 billion CBA is fully implemented, professors are expected to get an annual increment of between Sh8,547 and Sh9,753 for the higher and lower limits, respectively.
Those who earn a minimum salary of Sh170,681 per month would see their pay increased to Sh180,434 in the first year and Sh190,187 in the second.