18 March 2014

Kenya: Calling Off Varsity Lecturers' Strike Complex - Union

Nairobi — The Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) now says the strike by lecturers and non-teaching staff can only be called off following a National Governing Council meeting which will decide if negotiations have been fruitful.

In an interview with Capital FM News on Tuesday, Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya pointed out that union officials have no control over the situation which is in the hands of its members.

He further urged the Education Ministry to play its oversight role effectively so as to bring the deadlock to an end.

"It is a challenge to the unions to even imagine that they can now stop the strike because it is now in the hands of members. If it has to be stopped, then the court even complicates the whole matter. It requires that for it even to be stopped there has to be an application in court," he said. "How do we stop the strike without going to court? If we are to stop the strike we must do so through the court itself and that is what our lawyers are working on at the moment."

He stressed that they were not afraid of being arrested and explained that they will stand their ground.

"We are not afraid and we are not the first ones - if they arrest - us to count. Many people including top government officials have defied court orders. Why would the law be applied preferentially. In this country, the law is for all of us and none of us is above the law. If the courts have to apply that, then everybody must respect the law as it were. It would be full hardy and it would be sending wrong signals to the public that some people will be subjected to the law and others are not," he said. READ Varsities staff strike won't be called off - unions

He stated that the universities management should also be taken to court because they dishonoured a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which was also registered in court.

"Even the matter that is causing the strike in the universities is because the Collective Bargaining Agreement registered by the same court has been violated by the same Vice-Chancellors. Why have they not been taken to court or jailed. They are the cause of the strike that is in our universities. So we are saying that the court should not be misused," he said.

"We do not like strikes... we would like to call off the strike through our relevant organs. It is not me the Secretary General to call off the strike. It is now in the hands of members and if we were to call off the strike, it can only be done through the National Governing Councils of the unions. Those are the bodies and organs that are mandated in our constitution to help put out this particular problem."

The union officials were due to present their proposals to the universities management on Tuesday and Mukhwaya called on Vice-Chancellors to be open minded so that the strike which has paralysed learning can be stopped.

"They have accepted that they misappropriated these funds and misapplied them. Where they are going to get them I do not know... but they must get it back and pay the staff. It is good that the parent Ministry under the Cabinet Secretary Professor Kaimenyi admitted and conceded that indeed monies from that fund were misappropriated," he stated. "We thank him for that particular gesture of accepting that liability and so the Universities must now move with speed to ensure that that particular anomaly is corrected and never repeated."

"To our members, we are telling them that they must remain calm and vigilant. As their leaders, we continue engaging the universities and the government to find a lasting solution to their problem. We are committed and we want to ensure that we arrive at a solution that is going to help us get back to normalcy."

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