NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 21 — The strike by teaching staff in public universities has nothing to do with the intended scrapping of parallel degree programmes, the National Secretary General of University Academic Staff Union (UASU), Constantine Wasonga has said.
Responding to accusations by State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu who told the press Sunday that the dons were up in arms due to a raft of measures being undertaken by the Ministry of Education, among them the admission of all 2016 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) candidates who met the university entry requirement to universities through government sponsorship, Wasonga termed Esipisu’s sentiments as unfortunate saying they were diversionary tactics meant to shift attention from real issues.
“UASU clarifies that the 2013-2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) should have been implemented in 2013; and that our initial strike notice was issued before the release of 2016 KCSE results,” he said in a statement to newsrooms Monday.
“There’s no linkage whatsoever between the strike and performance at KCSE.”
Esipisu in his weekly press briefing on Sunday, linked the ongoing strike by university staff to shrinking revenues expected as a result of a potential removal of Module II programmes otherwise known as parallel degree programmes.
“You know with this reform of the exam system, one of the results of that is the potential complete removal of the parallel structure (Module II). The absence of funding from that parallel structure obviously is something that needs to be looked at in terms of the underlying reasons for the current problems,” Esipisu stated.
“Money that is paid from those programs to lecturers and to universities is not exactly in the public view and has not probably been accounted for in the way you would expect other government resources to be,” he added.
UASU also condemned the use of what it termed as “paramilitary tactics” in a section of universities to compel striking lectures to attend to students.
According to Wasonga, intimidation of lecturers is tantamount to violation of labour rights of its members.
Wasonga said the union will hold regional demonstrations on Wednesday as it continues pushing for the negotiation and implementation of a CBA for the 2013-2017cycle.
UASU together with sister unions — Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational institutions, Hospital and Allied workers (KUDHEIHA) – – commenced the current strike on January 18.
So far only KUDHEIHA which is comprised of support staff has signed a deal accepting the Sh10 billion offer extended to university staff by the government through the Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF).
Talks between UASU and IPUCCF collapsed last week after the union rejected a 3.2 and 1.6 per cent increase on basic salary and house allowances respectively, demanding for 30 per cent salary increment and 20 per cent increase on house allowance.
The status of talks between the council and KUSU remains unknown despite indications that the union representing the middle cadre of university staff is engaged in talks geared towards ending the strike which entered its 33rd day Monday.