NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – University staff unions have declared a nationwide strike affecting all the 33 public universities starting Wednesday midnight.
The Universities’ Academic Staff Union (UASU), Kenya University Staff Association (KUSA) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational and Allied (KUDHEA) workers union, have directed their members to down their tools until the 2013-2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated, signed, registered and its implementation schedule agreed on.
Addressing the press Wednesday at the University of Nairobi’s Chancellor’s Court, UASU Chairperson Muga K’olale, pointed an accusing finger at the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Ministry of Education for what he termed as lack of good faith in initiating the negotiation process.
According to K’olale, numerous attempts by the unions to revive stalled talks with the government had hit a dead end, prompting them to opt for industrial action in order to safeguard the interests of university staff.
“The unions played their roles as provided for by in the Constitution and as good practices would dictate,” he noted. “Jogoo House failed, SCR failed. This strike is inevitable and it is essential… highly essential.
K’olale, accused the government of failing to take into account UASU’s proposals to the SRC and the Inter Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) submitted in December 2012, despite awarding CBA’s to workers in other sectors including the contentious agreement between doctors and the government, signed in 2013.
“This has led to massive brain drain in public universities,” K’olale observed wondering how other professionals lectures had trained including teachers could end up with better CBA’s while university staff had none to show.
“It is only this strike that will add premium to the lives of university workers, without this strike we’re done.”
UASU Secretary General Constantine Wasonga, decried the lack of commitment from the government to engage the unions since they issued a seven-day strike notice on January 12, saying the unions will not be held liable for the impending collapse of learning in public universities.
“Without the 2013-2017 CBA, there will be no learning; no research activities; no innovation across all the public universities,” Wasonga warned urging the three unions to remain united in their resolve to achieve better standards of living for their members.
“KUDHEA have their demands, KUSO have their demands, UASU have their demands but if we must engage meaningfully in the restructuring the salary structure of university staff that will result in correcting decades of distortions, then we must work together,” K’olale said.
The unions ruled out a possibility of engaging the various universities to end the strike, insisting that any negotiations will have to be channeled through the IPUCCF.
They further appealed on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Education Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiang’i to intervene so that negotiations begin before the closure of budgetary estimates in March, 2017.