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Another strike from varsity lecturers looms

Lecturers and non-teaching staff in public universities have vowed to boycott their duties from Thursday this week as they embark on a nationwide strike.

Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) Deputy National Treasurer Mohamed Mwachiti told Capital FM News that their members have been directed to boycott classes and hold meetings at designated places as the strike progresses.

He pointed out that the industrial action was necessitated by the government’s failure to honour an agreement brokered with the union in 2008.

“In the Collective Bargaining Agreement, it was agreed that the negotiations for 2010/2012 start in three months and they actually did start in September 2009. Since then it has been a game until we threatened to go on strike. That is when they called us for negotiations,” he recalled.

He however indicated that the union is ready to sit down with the government and broker a deal.

“All members here are saying that they have to restore their dignity. It is not a question of the pay rise but the way they have been taking us round and treating us like children. So members are really annoyed and I tell you this will be the mother of all strikes!” he affirmed.

“Tomorrow there will be no joke. You just come around and see. No one will be attending any class at all. In fact, it is advisable for parents to just withdraw their children and take them back home.”

His sentiments were echoed by the Universities Non-Teaching Staff Union Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya who claimed that the government is not willing to dialogue with them.

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“This is simply because the government has reneged on what these two unions have been asking from the government,” he stated.

UASU had last month stated that they will not tolerate dishonesty on the part of their employers even as the university management missed a meeting scheduled to jumpstart the talks.

The talks were due to begin a week after Higher Education Minister Margaret Kamar presided over the launch of the process.

The union had further condemned the vice-chancellors’ attitude towards the entire process and accused them of derailing the talks aimed at reviewing their perks.

The planned meeting at the University of Nairobi was aimed at starting the talks on the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement of 2010/2011 and the new one of 2012/2014.

UASU had proposed that the two CBAs be collapsed into one and during the launch, university lecturers and workers had laid out a raft of conditions they wanted met.

It maintained that unlike the previous negotiations, the talks must be completed in time and warned of unnecessary consultations that slow the process.

It demanded that all public university administrations place their counter proposals on the table as a start up for any talks.

In addition, the unions demanded that all universities exercise transparency on their finances and make them available for public scrutiny.

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By Simon Ndonga

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