22 August 2017

Kenya: Crisis Looms at Varsities Amid Threat of Another Strike

A crisis looms in higher education once again after university lecturers issued a one-week notice to the government to implement their salary increase or face another round of industrial action from next month.

That follows a decision by universities to revert to the salaries and allowances that the dons were earning after implementing a Sh10 billion arrears up to June 30.

SALARY RATES

With universities set to re-open on Monday, and after two postponements, they hope the government will release the cash to save the sector.

"This is to inform you that universities have computed the additional funds that are required to pay the new salaries as per 2013-2017 CBAs and sent a request for the same to the Ministry of Education," an August 22 memo to all staff from Professor Francis Wachira, Deputy Vice-Chancellor-Administration at South Eastern Kenya University, says.

LEARNING

Prof Wachira added that the management was "waiting for a response from the ministry and, in the meantime, the university shall continue to pay salaries based on the old rates until the matter is addressed".

The situation was replicated at all 31 public universities across the country with lecturers at the University of Nairobi warning it will not be business as usual.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) secretary-general Constantine Wasonga has since written to the chairman of Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum, Prof Paul Kanyari, demanding an explanation in 10 days.

IMPLEMENT CBA

In the August 22 letter, Dr Wasonga wants to know why the government has not implemented the 2013-2017 collective bargaining agreement and deposited it with the Industrial Court, saying it was a violation of their deal.

"We also wish to inquire on the utilisation of the Sh10 billion," Dr Wasonga added.

"We want full disclosure on how the cash was used."

Universities said they used the money to pay salary arrears for 27,700 staff following two strikes in March and July.

The more than 9,000 lecturers were paid Sh5.5 billion, junior support staff Sh1 billion while non-teaching staff in senior positions got Sh3.5 billion.

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