NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has approved a request by University Councils of public universities seeking to withhold February salaries for striking lecturers.
In a letter dated March 3, Matiangi directed university managements to go ahead and take disciplinary action against dons taking part in the strike, saying it is illegal.
“I concur with the council and management decision in your respective universities to take disciplinary measures against those participating in the illegal strike,” Matiangi wrote in the letter addressed to all public universities’ Vice Chancellors.
“Such disciplinary action should include non-payment of salaries beginning with the month of February 2017 to any staff who is participating in the illegal industrial action,” the CS added.
Matiangi stated that union officials representing university staff should not have advised their members to boycott work while participating in negotiations, a position that University Academic Staff Union (UASU) officials have constantly refuted.
“I maintain that the respective unions should not illegally withhold their labour in the negotiations,” Matiangi noted.
Since the collapse of talks between university staff unions and the Inter Public Universities Consultative Council Forum (IPUCCF) on February 10 after unions rejected a Sh10 billion offer by the government, Matiangi has consistently maintained that negotiations were being undertaken by various university councils in a bid to find a solution to the strike which begun on January 18.
UASU officials have however dismissed this position on numerous occasions terming the Sh10 billion offer inadequate and one that they were unwilling to accept.
In a petition presented to Parliament on February 14, UASU stated that it had informed the IPUCCF that the offer which they said amounted to a 3.2 and 1.6 per cent increment on basic salary and house allowance respectively was not in tandem with their demands for the 2013-2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), asking instead to be awarded a 30 and 20 per cent pay rise for the two salary components.
“Let nobody ever imagine that we will forego this CBA. Let nobody ever imagine that we’ll take a paltry Sh10 billion,” UASU Secretary General Constantine Wasonga said mid February while addressing union members before matching to the Parliament, National Treasury and the Ministry of Education to present a petition.
Matiangi’s directive (seen on Tuesday by Capital FM News) however appears to have coincided with a memo by University of Nairobi Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Administration and Finance Prof Isaac Mbeche who told members of staff on Friday that the institution would only pay “members of staff who carried out their duties fully in the month of February 2017.”
Mbeche however downplayed his memo when reached by Capital FM News on Monday saying the non-payment of lecturers was as a result of lack of funds due to delays in the remittance of capitation from the Ministry of Education.
“We have not paid any lecturer at all. It is a question of the fact that we do not have money yet since we have not received February capitation,” Mbeche said. “We have written to the ministry asking for capitation.”
He further said reluctance by Module II students to pay their fees owing to the strike by the lecturers had negatively impacted on the institution’s ability to generate funds internally.
“Module II students did not pay their fees. The shortfall is Sh521 million in capitation and Sh250 million which we raise every month in internally generated revenues,” Mbeche stated.