September 23rd 2017

Society / Education

New crisis in higher learning as lecturers, non-teaching staff down tools over disputed CBA

The strike is likely to affect the academic calendar as it has done before since the public universities are re-opening after re-adjusting their programs owing to the previous strike that happened on the same grounds of implementing the CBA. About 33 public universities might be affected.

By Winfred Mbuya Mwanikiwmwaniki@kenyafreepress.comMonday, 03 Jul 2017 18:16 EAT

Lecturers protest outside Parliament Buildings during a past strike. (File Photo).

Public university lecturers and workers commenced their strike this morning over lack of implementation of the 2013-2017 Sh10 billion Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the government.

According to the Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) General Secretary Charles Mukhwaya, the government has violated the agreement and return to work formula as no money has been wired to their accounts.

The universities, whose lecturers went on strike include Nairobi, Kisii, Egerton, Egerton and Maasai Mara. Government efforts to stop the strike flopped. The lecturers of Egerton University have been urged by the university workers to launch the strike at Njoro campus.

Despite the urge by the Education cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i to withdraw the strike and go back to work, the lecturers planned a meeting after which they agreed to start their strike after the government failed to honour the Sh10 billion CBA as was agreed.

The CS had told the lecturers that the ministry had already wired Sh4 billion for the same. However, Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga said members had not received any money and that a crisis meeting today with the National Executive Council (NEC) members would make a final decision over the planned strike.

“The government reiterates its commitment to meet its side of the bargain and the unions and respective staff are advised accordingly. It is, therefore, our position that there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for any of the university unions to resort to industrial action,” said Mr Matiang’i.

The unions had earlier rejected a deal whereby more than 30,000 university staff were to receive 10 billion  arrears and said that it was not enough. The amount was to be shared amongst Uasu, Kenya University Staff Union, and the Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers in the ratio of 1:3:6. They were therefore pushing for the CBA to be honored fully.

The agreement was made in a bid to conclude a 54-day strike in March this year. The strike  paralyzed learning in public universities affecting the university calendars by pushing the closing dates. It was to lead to  17.5 per cent basic salary increase and  3.9 per cent increase in house allowance across the board.

The strike that affected the whole of the education sector had started early this year when the students were supposed to be re-opening for their January session and went on all the way to March. The students have had to adjust themselves as well as the Universities as such activities as the attachment period and the teaching practice time has been affected.

The Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and the Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu)  issued a strike notice on Friday to the government. They had given the government until Sunday midnight to fully implement the CBA as agreed failure to which they would down their tools.

The expiry date of the CBA is fast approaching as it had been made for the period 2013-2017. According to the CBA, the academic staff were to benefit from arrears that have accrued over the four years of the CBA, effective from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2017 which has not been done  yet.

The strike is likely to affect the academic calendar as it has done before since the public universities are re-opening after re-adjusting their programs owing to the previous strike that happened on the same grounds of implementing the CBA. About 33 public universities might be affected.

The education sector has been hit by a series of strikes for various reasons from both the lecturers and the students. This has happened over and over again.

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