NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 8 – University lecturers officials have attributed their woes and the persistent strikes to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the respective Universities Vice Chancellors whom they have accused of forestalling negotiation and implementation of their 2017/2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Appearing before the Senate standing committee on Education on Thursday, UASU Chairman Muga Kolale said efforts to implement their 2017/2021 signed agreement have always hit a snag with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission working with the Vice Chancellors to sabotage the implementation plan.
Kolale said since the introduction of the salaries commission, negotiations have not been smooth, accusing the SRC of being dodgy in the manner in which it handles the salary affairs of the university workers.
“Things were better off before the Salaries and Remuneration Commission surfaced. University workers never anticipated that the commission would make things difficult especially when implementing issues dealing with the implementation of CBAs,” said Kolale.
Kolale faulted the Vice chancellors for always making it difficult for the negotiation process to bear fruit between the staff unions and the government.
“The government released a total of Sh7.8 billion which was to cater for university workers but the Vice Chancellors have constantly delayed or refused to distribute the funds,” said Kolale.
UASU Secretary General Constantine Wesonga told the committee that university staff are overworked and underpaid describing the situation as a norm on the part of the government to discriminate them.
“Our members are overworked and lecturers collapse in classes. World over the university calendar is based on semester but in Kenya we have moved to tri-semester where lecturers are forced to teach back to back and dons do not go on leave,” said Wesonga.
Wesonga however said that they were ready and willing to resolve the stalemate that has paralyzed learning in all the higher institutions once a counterproductive offer is tabled before them.
At the same time, the officials called on the government to conduct a head count on the university staff in fears of ghost workers.
Concerns over lack of substantive VCs and councils in Public Universities also dominated Thursday’s session with the union officials saying it caused a major problem in the running of operations in the universities.
In Moi University for example, the union claims it has not been remitting close to Sh600 million for pension funds.
“Universities deduct money on Sacco reductions, loans, clearance but those funds are yet to reach the designated institutions,” Wesonga said.
In Egerton University UASU claims over Sh122 million owed to Saccos have also not been remitted despite deduction.
In Technical University of Kenya the union says Sh15 million is yet to be remitted owed to unions is yet to be remitted.
“The country needs to consider having a national comprehensive insurance cover in public universities,” Kolale said.