NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 8 – The intended strike by the public university staff that was slated for Thursday has been called off following negotiations brokered by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The strike was called off following the government’s resolve that the last instalment of the outstanding payments of Sh2 billion will be provided for in the 2010-2011 budget and paid at the beginning of July 2010.
The Secretary General of the University Academic Staff Union (UASU) Professor Muga K’olale who was accompanied by union officials called off the strike and called the government to honour the commitment to pay.
Finance PS Joseph Kinyua presented a signed letter to his Higher education counterpart Professor Crispus Kiamba committing the government to pay the last instalment of 2008/09-2009/10 financial years collective bargaining agreements which the university staff have been agitating for.
This was an outcome of a meeting convened by the Prime minister putting together the ministries of Higher education, Science and Technology represented by Minister Sally Kosgey and PS Prof Crispus Kiamba, Finance represented by Deputy PM Uhuru Kenyatta, PS Kinyua and all public universities councils and the three unions.
The PM said that public universities are part of the government and it was the government’s wish that all its workers are well remunerated.
“As government we want to see that the university staff is paid well. I appeal to unions not to use the weapon of strike menacingly but as a weapon of the last resort," the PM said.
Raila said that challenges that faced the economy in the ending financial year compromised the government’s ability to honour the CBA adding that this agreement will now be factored in the coming budget.
"These commitments were done after the budget had been passed," he said, adding that other challenges that faced the economy worsened the situation citing last year famine that cost the exchequer Sh25billion and the ravages of the floods amounting to over Sh5billion.
The PM regretted that 94.7 percent of the GDP goes to recurrent expenditure in terms of payment of salaries leaving only 2.7 percent for development expenditure and noted that for the economy to grow more funds need to be invested in infrastructural development.
"This trend must be reversed because we cannot borrow money from donors in order to pay salaries". He observed.
The chairman of the Vice-chancellors committee Prof Fredrick Onyango expressed gratitude that the looming strike had been diffused.