NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 9 – The government has offered Sh10 billion to cater for basic salaries and housing allowances adjustments for staff in public universities in a bid to end the ongoing lectures strike which entered its third week on Thursday.
In a dispatch to newsrooms on Wednesday, Universities Academic Staff Union’s (UASU) Secretary General Constantine Wasonga, said the Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF) had engaged the unions in negotiations which lasted for five hours , where the offer was put on the table.
“Today, UASU reports some progress in negotiations with IPUCCF regarding the 2013-2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA),” he said adding that the negotiations will continue on Thursday to iron out outstanding issues among them inclusion of pension contributions in the Sh10 billion pact.
“IPUCCF wants further advice whether part of the Government’s offer can be used to cover pension contributions,” he noted in a statement.
UASU however said the nationwide strike by the lecturers will remain in force pending the negotiation, signing, registration and implementation of the 2013-2017 CBA which the union is keen to secure before the end of the current Fiscal Year.
“UASU strike continues until the 2013-2017 CBA is negotiated, signed, registered and implemented,” Wasonga observed.
UASU together with sister unions – Kenya University Staff Association (KUSA) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotel, Educational and Allied (KUDHEA) workers union- commenced the industrial action on the midnight of January 18 following what union leaders said were frustrations by the IPUCCF to facilitate dialogue on the 2013-2017 CBA.
Wednesday’s offer came as Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi enlisted the help of the National Treasury and the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC) after efforts to engage the unions by the IPUCCF under the leadership of Prof Ratemo Michieka failed to bear fruits.
If accepted by the unions, the Sh10 billion offer will be the saving grace for more than 500,000 students in public universities who have so far been forced to miss their lectures even as clock for the January-April semester continues to tick.