NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 5 – Confusion emerged on Wednesday evening between the Unions that represent Public Universities Lecturers and workers, over whether or not they would proceed with a strike called for 8am Thursday.,
At a press briefing, Vice Chairman of the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF), James Tuitoek, said the strike was off because the Unions had been called upon to start talks concerning their complaints on salaries and house allowances.
Tuitoek said that the government had on Wednesday given IPUCCF guidelines to start negotiations with all the unions but only the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA) seemed to agree with the idea.
“We would like to confirm today (Wednesday) that the government has given us very clear guidelines in writing, which has enabled us to prepare counter offers to our unions. And therefore from today negotiations can start and we believe that there is no reason for anybody to withdraw labour from our Universities. I believe this is clear to everyone,” stated Tuitoek.
However, the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Universities Non-Teaching Staff Union (Utensu) insisted that the strike is still on and that there was no way KUDHEIHA should be involved in the said negotiations as it had not even issued the strike notice.
“How can you cancel a strike which has not yet started? Those are simply busy bodies that have no idea about this issue. We do not know where they agree with the government to strike a deal with the unions,” Samuel Nyandemo, the UASU chair for Nairobi told Capital News.
He insists that the lecturers under Uasu and Utensu will proceed with the strike, which he said would start promptly at 8am on Thursday, since the government does not want to address their grievances as earlier agreed.
“You cannot just wake up from nowhere and tell us to stop the strike without any agreement. Some of these things don’t need to be rushed like this. We had issued a statement earlier in the day that the strike is on and that stands,” insisted Nyandemo.
But Tuitoek stressed that it was not right for the two disagreeing Unions to go ahead with the strike yet they have been called for talks.
“Dialogue is the best way to solve issues. Our staff please, go on with work as usual from tomorrow and we would like the two unions in particular (Uasu & Utensu) to give this guideline and withdraw the strike notice,” Tuitoek said.
The university lecturers and workers insist that the industrial action was necessitated by the government’s failure to honour an agreement brokered with them in 2008.
Lecturers are proposing that a professor be paid a maximum of Sh400,000, up from the current Sh165,000 a month and a house allowance of Sh95,000 up from Sh64,000.