, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 29 – The National Executive Committee of the Universities Academic Staff Union has resolved that the strike which has paralysed learning in several public universities will continue until contentious issues in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and return-to-work formula are resolved.
Speaking after a meeting which brought together 31 public universities, UASU Chairman Muga K’Olale complained that none of their members had received the much-hyped Sh5.2billion which the government had reportedly released, saying they have only read it in the papers.
“We wish to categorically state that the so-called offer from the government is yet to reach the recipient universities academic staff union,” K’Olale said.
“We are on strike and continue to be on strike because the government is yet to offer the remaining part of the CBA. We will not call off the strike until the money is received.”
Reading a section of the return-to-work formula which was signed between the union and the government earlier in the year, UASU Secretary General Constantine Wasonga clarified that there were no new demands that the union was introducing contrary to media reports, saying everything they are demanding for was mutually agreed on and signed.
“Members of the public are being told that the union is introducing new terms. There is nothing like that,” Wasonga said.
Holding the recognition document the union signed with the Inter-Public Universities’ Councils Consultative Forum, Wasonga said: “This is the recognition agreement we signed between UASU and IPUCCF and we agreed on clause eight that the negotiations for 2017 to commence on third April 2017 and be concluded by the 31st May 2017 to allow for implementation by 1st July 2017, that’s not a new demand, it’s on this return to work formula.”
Wasonga further clarified that the union doesn’t enjoy calling its members to go on strike.
On the contrary, he said they are heartbroken by disruptions in the learning calendar and promised that if the contentious issues in the CBA and the return to work formula are addressed, Kenya will not hear of any strike anytime soon.
“As union, we don’t want the strike. Our wish is that the reforms being implemented by the ministry of education should also include how to negotiate CBA in public universities,” he said.
“We don’t want to interrupt any academic calendar. Reforms should also be geared towards the human resource.”
The union further downplayed any division saying that they are as united as ever in their quest for better conditions of work for their colleagues.
“There is no division in the Union. Thirty-one university members from across the country are represented here. There is no division about the strike. It is still on,” K’Olale said.
The union further condemned rising cases of police officers being sent into universities during strikes to disperse students.
Citing the recent case where Nairobi University students were clobbered by the police when a section went to protest the arrest of the former student leader Babu Owino, Prof Muturi Mberia called on the university administrations to do more to shield vulnerable students from the brutal force of the police.
“Calling outsiders, especially the police to come and beat our students… we condemn that in the strongest terms possible,” Mberia said.