Union issues demands as Prof Kiama set to take over at UoN
A full in-tray awaits the newly-appointed University of Nairobi (UoN) Vice Chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama after the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) yesterday raised several issues that it wants addressed.
Two days before Kiama assumes office, Uasu said there are pertinent issues which have been a bottleneck to the development of the university.
Top on the list, which the union says should be addressed immediately, is pending bills amounting to Sh600 million in outstanding dues for services offered by the academic staff in the self-sponsored programmes.
“We are now in a new semester and if some of these bills are not cleared on time, we may be forced to cripple some of the services.
It is our hope that Prof Kiama will facilitate payment of this money as fast as possible to avoid it accumulating further,” said Uasu secretary general, University of Nairobi chapter, George Omondi.
The lobby also wants Sh5 billion, which was deducted from staff salaries ostensibly for cooperatives but has not been remitted, to be forwarded.
Further, the union has asked the VC to come up with a reasonable medical scheme which will enable staff access quality health services.
“We have the most hardworking staff but in most cases our staff end up dying in the line of duty but we are never compensated after using our money,” said Omondi.
At the same time, the union wants Kiama to urgently address the disproportionate ratio of academic to support staff.
According to the body, the institution has a lot of support staff who do work that can be done by one person, especially with the advent of new technology.
“We are aware that we may be entering into a war with their unions but its high time more academic staff were employed. We are overworked,” said Omondi.
The union also defended Kiama’s appointment, maintaining that both the Public Service Commission and the University of Nairobi Council delivered a credible job as interviews were made public.
“We urge members of the university community to desist from engaging in unnecessary rumours and unfounded allegations by people in pursuit of selfish interests,” said the official.
The union officials asked Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to re-look the financing of public universities, especially the University of Nairobi.
Annually, the university receives Sh653 million, about Sh200 million less than it is supposed to receive.
Kiama was appointed last Sunday for a five-year term by the UoN Council. He is taking over from Peter Mbithi, whose bid for second term was rejected.
Previously, Kiama served as the UoN Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Human Resource and Administration.