Dons’ union calls off planned strike, embrace dialogue

Tuesday, August 31st, 2021 00:00 |
Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga (left) flanked by union members during a past press briefing in Nairobi. Photo/PD/File

It is a relief for new students reporting to universities next month after lecturers suspended the strike that was to commence yesterday.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) National Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga said the trade union  decided to suspend the industrial action to allow for more talks with the government over their grievances

“Uasu National Executive Committee has consequently directed that the union suspends its strike notice to give a final chance for dialogue.

In line with the NEC resolution, the union accordingly suspends its strike notice dated August 23,” said Wasonga in a statement.

Union suspended the strike, which could have paralysed all 35 public universities, after holding a crisis meeting with University Education and Research Principal Secretary Simon Nabukwesi to review the progress on the conciliation process in a bid to resolve the stalemate.

Parties agreed to review outcome of the engagement between the union and the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum under the auspices of the National Implementation Committee (NIC) over the implementation of the 2017- 21 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

“Uasu National Executive Committee noted that NIC has agreed that all public universities immediately submit  their returns for purposes of audit and enforcement of compliance with the 2017 - 21 CBA,” said Wasonga.

He said they also reviewed orders of the Employment and Labour Relations Court issued on August 26.

As this happened, the University of Nairobi (UoN) Uasu Chapter said they are open for constructive dialogue with the management without further delays, even as they called for order in the institution.

According to UoN Chapter Chairman and Secretary General Dr Richard Bosire and Dr Maloba Wekesa respectively, the university management has continually disregarded court orders directing full implementation of the CBA.

“We are always willing to talk, it is not always about fracas because of something that can be amicably resolved. Strike is not something we wish for.

It is unfortunate and now that an opportunity for engagement has opened, it was suspended,” said Dr Wekesa.

Officials accused the Vice-Chancellor and university council of acting in total disregard of the law, which has given rise to frustrated staff and toxic work environment.

“We called a meeting to have a conversation on the way forward but someone tried to frustrate it because the media was disallowed to get in.

If you are doing the right thing, why are you afraid of the media?” Wekesa posed.

Unpopular reforms

They are also discontented with the fact that the university management owes them Sh600 million, arrears to the CBA whereas other institutions have received theirs in full.

According to the officials, the university received Sh1.2 billion last year but the UoN management decided to illegally hold on to half of their monies.

Wekesa and Bosire also took issue with the manner in which UoN is being managed and accused the institutions council of running it down by introducing unpopular reforms.

They vowed to desist any attempts to renew the institution’s council, which is almost coming to an end.

“The university council’s term is ending and they are all in a rush to create an environment to justify renewal of their term.

We will fight to the last person to ensure their term is not renewed. There is nothing they have done for this institution and have been introducing reforms to kill it, they are misadvising the Vice-Chancellor… We want energetic people who understand governance reforms,” said Dr Bosire.

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