Agony for parents, students over public universities strike plan

Kenya Universities Staff Union officials Antony Nyakoni (national chairman), Charles Mukhwaya   (secretary general) and their Universities Academic Staff Union counterparts Muga K’Olale (secretary general) and  Sammy Kubasu (national chairman) when they announced the strike in Nairobi Tuesday. 

Higher learning faces a countrywide paralysis should lecturers and non-teaching staff in public universities make good their strike threat Wednesday. Over 30,000 public universities staff will boycott duties this morning after the Education ministry failed to broker a deal in the Sh3.9 billion pay dispute between unions and vice chancellors.  This means more than 200,000 regular and another estimated 300,000 self-sponsored students will not be attended to, unless the Government meets the unions’ demands. An earlier meeting called by Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi and his two Principal Secretaries, Belio Kipsang and Collete Suda, with the parties, failed to reach an agreement. The two unions, Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu) and Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu),  have accused public universities vice chancellors and University colleges principals of failing to honour the pay deal. At the centre of the dispute is full payment of the second phase of the Sh7.8 billion salary award the lecturers negotiated way back in 2012. The money was to be paid in two phases. Half of the negotiated money was paid in December 2012. The remaining Sh3.9 billion is the bone of contention. The deal provided that ‘implementation of the said CBA shall be done in two tranches of Sh3.9 billion (that) shall be paid with effect from July 1, 2012. The remaining balance of Sh3.9 billion shall be paid in the context of the 2013/2014 Medium Term Expenditure Framework Budget.’

Uasu Secretary General Muga K’Olale regretted that the meeting called by Prof Kaimenyi was unfruitful, hence the industrial action. “We had been called by the Education CS to seek a solution, but instead he sided with the vice chancellors even when they admitted owing the staff over Sh2.2 billion,” said Prof K’Olale yesterday.

He also said they had helped the Government mop up Sh3.1 billion, which the universities had not accounted for. The tough talking K’Olale warned the strike would lead to massive losses, more than the amount they are requesting the VCs to account for. He said the negotiated agreement put the basic salary hike at 33.1 per cent and house allowance for eligible staff at 14.2 per cent. But only a 17.1 per cent had been paid to the workers using the first tranche of Sh3.9 billion paid in December 2012. Kusu Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya blamed the Government for abetting corruption and not doing enough to prosecute the culprits.


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