Lecturers in public universities have embarked on a fresh work boycott barely three months after ending a 54-day strike, citing failure by the government to implement a Sh10 billion Collective Bargaining Agreement CBA).
The dons had on March 13 agreed to resume work after signing the 2013-2017 CBA following lengthy negotiations characterised by intense lobbying, with representatives of university staff unions walking out of talks with the Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF) on numerous occasions.
Charles Mukhwaya, the Secretary General of the Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) Monday said the deal was yet to be implemented despite an agreement that the pay increases would come into effect by June 30. “In that agreement, there was one very clear and explicit clause. It stated clearly that the government and the employers (university councils) will pay all the money on or before 30 June, 2017. So why we gather here today is because the CBA was violated as far as the date of payment is concerned,” the unionist said.
Mukhwaya said the lectures will not resume work until the government agrees to pay the money to all university staff in full and not in instalments as suggested by Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi on Sunday.
“I have heard claims, allegations and rumours coming from the Education CS. We call his claims that the CBA will be paid in portions rumours because we have not been consulted. During the entire period of negotiations, payments in phases was not a issue,” charged Mukhwaya backed by members of the university staff drawn from KUSU, University Academic Staff Union (UASU) and the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied (KUDHEA) workers.
In the CBA signed mid-March, the lectures were awarded a 17.5 and 3.9 per cent increment on basic salary and house allowances respectively, with a promise being made of harmonisation of salaries for all workers in public universities.
According to University of Nairobi UASU branch Chairperson Richard Bosire who also attended the meeting during which the industrial action was declared, the delayed remittance of the agreed sum amounted to betrayal of university staff and the entire CBA negotiation process.
“When we negotiated, the government said that there was only Sh10 billion available and we said okay let us take the Sh10 billion. Now want to tell us that they have sent Sh4.7 billion?” Bosire protested. “We’re going to proceed with this strike until the CBA is implemented fully. If the government wants to be trusted it must do the right thing and demonstrate that it can be trusted,” he said. The new strike is likely to disrupt learning in public universities whose January-April semester was significantly extended to cater for lost time during the January-March strike.
Following a strike notice on Thursday, the Ministry of Education had on Sunday issued a statement urging lectures to shelve the planned strike “as the ministry has already wired Sh4.775 billion into the respective bank accounts of 31 public universities and colleges”
This article was first published on Capital News, written by Jeremiah Wakaya.