Appearing before the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, UASU Chairperson Muga K’olale accused the universities of economically depriving members of the teaching staff taking part in the programs, saying their pay is not commensurate with the amount of money collected by universities through parallel programs.
“We wanted other forms of compensation in view of the fact that the academic staff not only teach; they research and lately they are the cash cows for the universities,” he said.
“They’re helping the universities to generate billions of shillings in parallel programs and so we thought there was a need for academic staff partaking in parallel programs to be reasonably and rationally compensated,” he added.
K’olale also told the committee that lecturers wanted their salaries to be reviewed to remove salary disparities adding that existing salary structures were erratic.
He said there were cases where tutorial fellows earned an amount equivalent to that of senior lecturers, a scenario that has negatively impacted on the morale of tutors in institutions of higher learning.
He further highlighted key demands that the union wanted to be addressed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for the 2013-2017 cycle which include the provision of mortgages and car loan facilities favorable to the lecturers.
“We wanted basic salary to be competitive and comparable with other standards the world over,” he said adding: “We wanted new salary parameters to be designed and entrenched in the system because hitherto salary adjustments and promotion have been erratic in the sense that they are based on unprofessional and unethical tenets.”
The union officials narrated their frustrations in their quest to have the 2013-2017 CBA negotiated since the creation of the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) which K’olale said initiated a radical change on CBA negotiation cycles changing them from the initial two-year to 4-year cycle in July 2012.
According to K’olale, the new four-year cycle was gazetted in January 2013 despite unions expressing reservations with the new guidelines.
The Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF) is said to have submitted its counter-proposal alongside the union’s submission on December 31, 2012, but talks failed to kick off according to K’olale.
Numerous correspondences by the unions to university councils numbering to seven went on unanswered until March 2016 when IPUCCF invited university workers unions to submit proposals, according to the union chairperson.
The council, however, did not respond to demands by the union.
The officials dismissed sentiments that IPUCCF’s (formed in 2004) mandate could have rendered powerless by the Constitution of Kenya (2010) maintaining that the council was taking lecturers for granted.
They faulted the council for failing to engage the union in meaningful negotiations terming the Sh10 billion offer as a move to arm-twist university staff since a settlement was not reached before the offer was tabled.
“What we received on February 10 was based on staff numbers and complete utilization of Sh10 billion offer by the government,” noted UASU’s Secretary General Constantine Wasonga.
“Unions do not negotiate lump sum amounts. We negotiate percentages then those percentages are translated into figures,” he added.
Wasonga insisted that the IPUCCF should remove the employer’s component of pension remittances even as they consider the union’s proposal of 30 and 20 percent increment of salary and house allowance.
The committee which was chaired by Bomet Senator Wilfred Lesan is also expected to meet with leaders of the Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) as it seeks to find a solution to the strike by lecturers in public universities which entered its 41st day Tuesday.
Other union leaders who attended the committee sitting include University of Nairobi Chapter Chairperson Richard Bosire, Secretary George Omondi and Multimedia University Chapter Secretary General Onesmus Mutio.
This article was first published on Capital News.