, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 11 – Two public universities have been closed as effects of the lecturers strike reached new heights on Friday.
Egerton and Masinde Muliro universities were closed indefinitely as the nationwide lecturers’ strike entered the third day.
Vice Chancellor James Tuitoek directed that Egerton University be closed until further notice, with no end to the strike in sight.
The directive will affect thousands of students at the main campus and its constituent colleges in Nakuru and other major towns.
The worst affected are those due for graduation since they had not been cleared by the time the national strike commenced.
A similar directive was issued at the Masinde Muliro University and students advised to clear off the campus latest by 4pm on Friday.
Further closures in universities are expected as unions stand firm on their demands despite a declaration by a court that the strike was illegal.
There seems no end sight to the strike after a meeting convened by the Prime Minister Raila Odinga Thursday evening ended in a stalemate.
According to Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) Secretary General Muga K’Olale, the PM told the lecturers that the government had no money currently to finance wage demands by the dons and support staff.
The PM is further said to have reminded the dons that the war against the Al Shabab in Somalia was costly and urged them to be more patriotic.
K’Olale criticised the approach used by the Prime Minister in trying to solve the matter as wrong.
K’Olale told Capital News that neither him nor UASU Chairman Sammy Kubasu as a senior UASU officials were invited.
“They want to divide us, the union has its senior officials and they should represent the union, I was not invited neither was the chairman,” K’Olale said adding that there was no good will in holding the meeting.
He said that the unions felt discriminated against as the same government has awarded other public servants pay increases while university staff have been waiting for over four years.
“The same government has awarded teachers the military and the police; why does the same government discriminate against the lecturers; we have a strong basis our negotiations stalled so we are only calling for completion of negotiations. Why should we be told there is no money when we had already started negotiations?” he posed.
The meeting was attended by Vice Chancellors of Public Universities and according to K’Olale ‘junior officials’ of UASU, among other officials from the Universities Non Teaching Staff Union (UNTESU) and the Kenya Union of Domestic, hospitals, Educational Institutions, hotels and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA).
Others present included the Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar and Finance Permanent Secretary Joseph Kinyua.
K’Olale has maintained that the strike will not be called off and that the unions will proceed to court to challenge the declaration of the strike as illegal.
He said the closure of public universities will not solve the problem.