, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – The negotiation of the 2017-2022 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) and the Universities’ Academic Staff Union (UASU) set for Monday has been pushed to Friday.
The lecturers’ union has however expressed concern with postponement of the negotiations faulting the IPUCCF chaired by Prof Isaac Mbeche for unduly delaying the negotiations.
According to a return-to-work Formula reached by the two parties on December 9 when lectures in public universities called off a month-long strike, the negotiations for the 2017-2022 CBA were to take place between December 18 and January 31.
Individual public universities were to conclude internal CBAs for the 2013-2017 phase by February 28.
In his letter dated January 10 however, Prof Mbeche, without giving any reason rescheduled the IPUCCF-UASU talks raising fears that the January 31 deadline within which negotiations for the 2017-2022 CBA are to be concluded could be missed.
“UASU thanks the IPUCCF and government for their commitment to commence, within 10 days, talks on the 2017-2021 CBA – an agreement that is expected to restructure lecturers’ wage structure and enhance quality education,” the lecturers’ union stated in December when its leaders agreed to call off a month-long work boycott, the fourth strike, in 2017.
UASU had faulted IPUCCF for mismanaging the implementation of a Sh10 billion CBA which brought to an end a 54-day strike on March 13.
The March CBA which covered UASU, Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) and the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions, Hospitals and Allied workers (KUDEIHA) – representing the three cadres of university workers – was reached following lengthy negotiations characterized by intense lobbying, with representatives of university staff unions walking out of talks with the IPUCCF on numerous occasions.
In June lectures protested the partial implementation of the 2013-2017 CBA after the government released Sh4.7 billion.
UASU and KUSU demanded the release of the net figure agreed in the CBA by June 30 according to terms agreed upon in the CBA.
In efforts to try and forestall yet another strike by lectures, the government through the National Treasury released Sh5.2 billion on November 6.
Treasury Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge allowed the State Department of University Education to spend the money on enhanced salaries of public universities staff, pending the regularization of the same in supplementary estimates for the 2017/18 Financial Year.
“To avert the ongoing strike by universities staff approval has been granted to the State Department for University Education to spend Sh5,286,708,183 under Article 223 of the Constitution to enable payment of the enhanced salaries and allowance,” Thugge stated in the letter addressed to the Education Ministry.
Under the CBA inked on March 13, lectures were awarded 17.5 and 3.9 per cent increments on basic salaries and house allowances.
In the last strike declared on November 1, UASU Secretary General Constantine Wasonga accused public universities and IPUCCF of negating new salary structures and reverting to old rates.
Wasonga demanded that the enhanced pay rates be retained failing which learning in institutions of higher learning will remain paralyzed.
Following the hard-line position by the union, Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi told universities on November 15 to forthwith cease hiring staff on a permanent and pensionable basis, a move UASU vehemently opposed.
“University employees should now be hired on contract basis. This business of hiring every university worker even those working in the kitchen should come to an end,” Matiangi told university managers who included Vice Chancellors during a meeting at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies on November 15.
“The proposal to introduce contract-based employment in universities will start in the next financial year, the time has come when we must reflect on how to run universities,” he announced during the meeting.