Public varsities in limbo as pay dispute turns into tough test

February 22, 2017 4:48 pm
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While presenting a memorandum to the ministry Wednesday, Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) Chapter Secretary General for Multimedia University Onesmus Mutio said the union was yet to receive a response from the government since presenting a petition on Tuesday last week/JEREMIAH WAKAYA

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 22 – Lecturers in public universities have decried the lack of progress in the negotiation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the 2013-2017 cycle, blaming the Ministry of Education for lack of commitment to address their demands.

While presenting a memorandum to the ministry Wednesday, Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) Chapter Secretary General for Multimedia University Onesmus Mutio said the union was yet to receive a response from the government since presenting a petition demanding a speedy resolution of the matter on Tuesday last week.

“No letter of disbursement or undertaking from the Treasury on budgetary commitment has been availed to UASU,” he said accusing the Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF) of creating hurdles in the negotiation process.

“IPUCCF has not availed summaries of payroll information for the years covered by the 2013-2017 CBA cycle to enable computations of accurate figures and allocations of university workers and individual university to avoid loss of taxpayers’ money,” Mutio claimed when he lead union officials and lectures drawn from 33 institutions of higher learning countrywide in peaceful demonstrations before presenting a memorandum to the Ministry of Education.

In its memorandum, UASU pleaded with the ministry to facilitate the commencement of negotiations between the IPUCCF and the union which collapsed last week following UASU’s refusal of a Sh10 billion offer extended to university staff by the government through the council on February 10.

UASU maintained the 2013-2017 CBA needed to be negotiated, signed and implemented before the current budget comes to an end.

“The ministry should urgently intervene and facilitate meaningful negotiation, conclusion, signing, registration, and implementation of the 2013-2017 CBA before the foreclosure of budget in March 2017,” a section of the memo reads.

Further, the memorandum called for the removal of members of the security forces said to be intimidating striking lecturers in various universities as such actions amount to violation of the rights of dons according to the union.

On Monday last week, the union rejected the government’s offer which amounted to a 3.2 and 1.6 per cent increment of basic salary and house allowance respectively terming it as inadequate proposing instead a 30 and 20 per cent increment on the two pay components.

Addressing lectures during Wednesday’s demonstrations, UASU Vice Chairperson Joseph Mberia, said Sh4.2 billion out of the Sh10 billion offer was slashed to take care of pensions, contrary to their demands.

“IPUCCF seeks to deduct employer’s component of pension contribution for all staff from this inadequate Sh10 billion, implying that each staff will lose 30 per cent of their earnings,” a section of a petition served to parliament, Treasury and the Education Ministry Tuesday last week read.

Parliament which received the petition through the National Assembly’s Education Committee is yet to respond to issues raised by UASU despite an undertaking by the committee’s Deputy Chairperson Julius Melly to look into the matter.

“We will resolve this matter just like we did with the teachers (in primary and secondary schools),” Melly said while receiving the petition.

An estimated 500,000 students in public universities are said to be affected by the ongoing strike which kicked off on January 18.

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