Defiant university workers remain on strike

September 16, 2012 4:16 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 16 – Public University lecturers and workers say no amount of intimidation or threats will make them go back to work until their demands are met.

This follows a statement made by the Vice-Chancellors Committee of the Inter-Public University Councils Consultative (IPUCC) Forum warning them that the current strikes have no legal protection and those who will not resume duty will be sacked.

The Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) National Secretary General Muga K’olale however rubbished the claim arguing that they were protected under the labour laws which gives them the right to demonstrate as a means of having their grievances addressed.

“The Industrial Court has been working in complicity with the Universities to deny us opportunities to negotiate. The matter has been lying there and we would like to remind you that in 2006, we were locked in court for almost three years and later on when the embargo was lifted, we were given a 30 percent pay rise,” he stated.

“Our strike is morally sound, ethically justifiable, historically necessitated and of course legally acceptable.”

The Universities Non Teaching Staff Union (UNTESU) Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya supported him and also accused the government of trivializing their demands.

“Even as the ad-hoc committee of the Cabinet was being formed, its terms of reference were not known. The timeframe within which they were expected to conclude their work and present their report was not known either,” he said.
“We do not know what that ad-hoc committee is doing but if whatever it is doing is geared towards bringing an amicable solution to this problem, then we are more than willing in welcoming it.”

On Saturday, the Vice-Chancellors said the strike had been illegalised by the Industrial Court and they would, therefore, be free to sack anyone who failed to report to duty.

In a statement, they said that lecturers have been ordered to report back to lecture halls on Monday morning or risk losing their jobs.

“Any member of staff of the public universities who will not report to work as directed shall be construed as having breached their contract of employment for participating in the unprotected strike,” the statement read.
The two University unions however urged all its members to remain strong and not to be bullied by the threats.

They called on them not to report to work on Monday until the government showed them some sign of goodwill.

K’olale questioned the government’s genuineness in addressing their issues saying that other high profile civil servants were being given hafty pay hikes while the university lecturers and workers were being ignored.
Mukhwaya said the workers have been angered the more and decided to ‘reload the strike.’

“We cannot take a Cabinet sub committee that has no terms of reference or even a time frame. We are not blind to the fact that they are employing delaying tactics,” he said.

The Cabinet sub-committee formed is supposed to come up with a solution to the industrial unrests by the teachers, doctors, and university lecturers.
K’olale said referring talks to salaries and Remuneration Commission is not a legitimate attempt to send lecturers back to work.

“We want lawful negotiations. SRC does not engage with unions. They advise the Government not unions,” he said.


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