TRADE Unions representing university staff and lecturers in public universities are claiming that vice chancellors are plotting to mete out violence on their striking members.
The leaders of the the Universities Academic Staff Union and Universities Non Teaching Staff claimed yesterday at press briefing that plans hatched by the vice chancellors were at advanced to use students and policemen in beating up the striking workers who show up at any campus and later blame it on the unions.
"We have credible information coming from Maseno, Kenyatta and Nairobi universities that they want to use force on our members to intimidate them and silence them. We are informed that some students and police officers will be used to execute this mission," Uasu Secretary-General Muga K'Olale told reporters in Nairobi without divulging much information because they were still gathering more details.
However when contacted, vice chancellor spokesperson, who is also the chair to the Inter-Public University Councils Consultative Forum, Professor James Tutoek dismissed the claims. "Those are mere creations of the unions. However our official communication as at now is that lecturers and other staff who fail to report to work tomorrow (today) will be sacked for partaking in an illegal strike and for having breached the employment contracts with their universities," Tutoek said.
He said the strike was declared illegal in 2011 by the Industrial Court and the vice chancellors are therefore free to sack those who will not resume duty. The unions on the other hand termed the orders as "immaterial out to hoodwink workers into slavery."
"The vice chancellors who are now issuing threats to us, in August they were awarded over Sh100, 000 on their allowances, and because they are satisfied they think everyone in the universities is comfortable and should not demand for better remuneration. This is what we call insensitivity and selfishness, but let them be warned we won't be moved, our strike is on because whatever we are demanding is a right and not a favour from the VCs," Untesu secretary general Dr Charles Mukhwaya said calling on their members not to listen to the VCs or government but them-the unions who called the strike.
K'Olale on his part further said the court order the VCs were referring to was never served to them and was issued for the strike they had last year, and can never be applied to block this year's industrial action. The lecturers and other staff in public universities have been on strike for two weeks now demanding a 200 percent pay hike, and full negotiation of the pending 2010/2012 and 2012/2014 Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Meanwhile the teachers' strike that enters its third week today is still on according to the union officials. According to KNUT chair Wilson Sossion no resolution had been reached between the government and the teachers in ending the strike. "We have no deal and the strike is still on until the day the government will realize to treat all its workers fairly and not tell the teachers who are poorly remunerated today that they don't have money and tomorrow they are doubling salaries of others who have already hefty cheques," he said in reference to government's decision to increase allowances for permanent secretaries. Teachers are on strike demanding a 300 percent pay raise.