, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 -The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) has backed the striking university staff.
COTU Deputy Secretary General George Muchai said that COTU supports the strike after analyzing the genesis of the dispute and the fact that unions have followed the right procedures in calling for industrial action.
Muchai has called on the striking university staff to assemble at COTU Headquarters on Thursday at 10 in the morning for further direction
“COTU fully and firmly supports the industrial action taken by university staff and COTU invites all of them for the next course of action,” declared Muchai
COTU is set to lead the three university staff unions to a meeting with the Minister of Labour, John Munyes.
Muchai has expressed optimism that a solution agreeable to all parties could soon be reached.
“I am not pre-empting the outcome of the meeting on Thursday. We are going there not with pre-determined conclusions but with very open minds, it is in the interest of the country, that a solution is found,” he emphasised.
Muchai who addressed the media at COTU offices flanked by University Academic Staff Union (UASU) Secretary General Muga K’olale and Charles Mukwaya of University Non teaching Staff Union (UNTTESU), termed as mischief the move by the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied workers (KUDHEIA) to engage in return to work formula that was not clear.
Muchai said: “We have had extensive consultations with KUDHEIA and we realised that they want to negotiate with university councils when they should negotiate with the Inter Public Universities Consultative Forum (IPUCCF), you can only read mischief in all these.”
He also accused the Ministry of Higher Education of undermining the industrial action by secretly engaging one of the unions for negotiations.
“You cannot double speak. How do you say that there is no money then also say that you want to negotiate with the unions? It makes no sense,” he said.
The strike that entered day eight on Wednesday has so far disrupted learning, led to the closure of two public universities (Egerton and Masinde Muliro) and the postponement of two graduation ceremonies at Egerton University and Mombasa Polytechnic University.
Even as COTU prepared to lead the three unions for talks with the Minister of Labour on Thursday, Maseno University announced the return to work of its employees who were on strike since last week.
The university director of public relations Owen Onyango said the university management had a meeting with the union officials and reached a back to work solution.
Onyango said: “As for the lecturers, management had a meeting with the entire membership of academic staff and agreed that teaching resume immediately.”
He said that the University’s academic programmes were going on smoothly.
Onyango further said that the end of year examinations scheduled to start next Monday are on course.