, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – Negotiations between university lecturers and the State over a pay increase disintegrated on Monday after the government team led by the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) walked out of the discussions.
During the meeting that lasted close to three hours, the government team took time off twice to consult on how to deal with both the lecturers’ union and the non-teaching staff simultaneously.
According to the chairman of the negotiating team Geoffrey Muluvi, the rules and regulations of negotiations stipulated that talks are carried out with one union at a time which in this instance was not the case.
“The practice has been that we negotiate with the unions separately… that is Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) at one sitting then the Universities Non-Teaching Staff Union (UNTESU) at another. Today, the meeting was meant for UASU but they came together with UNTESU,” he pointed out.
“Initially, we had also invited UASU for a meeting on September 5 at the University of Nairobi to negotiate with them but they never turned up.”
The Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) National Secretary General Muga K’olale however indicated that this was an attempt by the government to deny them their rights and stated that they would be steadfast in their cause until a tangible offer was made.
<blockquote><span style=”color: #800000;”><em><strong<“Initially, we had also invited UASU for a meeting on September 5 at the University of Nairobi to negotiate with them but they never turned up.”</strong></em></span></blockquote>
“The government has failed to table an acceptable offer. Today we challenged the government to clearly declare how much the Treasury has set aside for negotiations and the response was that they do not have an offer. The document that they had forwarded to us has turned out to be illegal,” he revealed.
His statement was echoed by the Universities Non-Teaching Staff Union Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya who accused the government negotiation team of double standards and urged lecturers not to be intimidated by threats that may be made by universities’ management.
“The government was expected to come and engage unions representing workers within our public universities so as to resolve the crisis bedevilling us. The government has walked away; the government has run away from negotiations and it therefore tells you that this is a government that is not interested at all in resolving matters to do with its own public servants,” he stated.
The unions last week rejected a 0.5 percent pay increase offer by the government, terming it as ‘immoral’.
K’olale said the offer which did not award them any house allowance is aimed at demoralising staff.
He pointed out that this was unreasonable as vice chancellors were recently awarded a 400 percent pay increase.
Mukhwaya on the other hand had stated that the counter offer showed the nonchalant attitude the government had for the workers.
The counter proposal signed by the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) negotiations committee chairman Peter Mbithi stated that negotiations can only be on basic salaries and house allowances.
“House allowance shall be increased to the respective ranks of the academic staff members of the public universities at the rate of 0 percent.”
The university lecturers and non-teaching staff stated that they are ready to negotiate provided the government gave them a reasonable offer.