University lecturers issue one-week strike notice over CBA agreement

Friday, January 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Uasu leaders (from left) secretary general Constantine Wesonga, Muga K’Olale (chairman) and Mutura Mberia (vice chair) after the press briefing in Nairobi yesterday. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

University lecturers yesterday threatened to down tools starting January 20, if the State fails to honour a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed on October 28 last year.

Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) secretary-general Constatine Wasonga said the new semester will be interrupted if the government does not release the funds.

“We will not take this lying down but we are not surprised because in the history of CBA, none has been implemented without a strike so we are ready. There will be no classes in public universities,” Wasonga told a press conference in Nairobi.

No budget

He said the National Delegates Conference had in  December mandated the union leadership to call a nationwide strike if the CBA is not implemented.

“I am giving a seven-day strike notice to the government. If they put their house in order, there will be no strike. But if no money is in our accounts, Uasu does not just threaten. We will go on strike until we get what is due to us,” he said.

He dismissed a Ministry of Education statement that it had not budgeted for the pay increase.

“The ministry cannot tell us they did not budget for this CBA... people are playing games,” said Wasonga.

Wasonga said the government had not learned anything from 2017 when lecturers went on strike three times.

He said the union and Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) concluded negotiations on October 28 last year.

During the meeting, parties agreed that the CBA was to be implemented on, or before, November 30.

 He said the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the universities council forum, 40 accountants drawn from all public universities and unions held a consultative meeting on how to implement the CBA and calculated the master scales, the implements and arrears for 2017/21 CBA and the figure was 13.8 billion excluding pension component.

“Now SRC is saying IPUCCF erroneously indicated the cost of the CBA to be Sh13.8 billion. It means the government is now talking… SRC is a commission that speaks on behalf of the government, IPUCCF is a federation of councils that speak on behalf of government so the government is talking with two mouths,” he said.

Wasonga explained that SRC first gave the beacons for CBA, which were followed by a letter on December 13 confirming that CBA had been signed and forwarded to them.

The secretary general then forwarded the CBA to the Ministry of Labour and last week universities council forum forwarded it for registration. 

Followed law

He said the CBA is, however, yet to be  forwarded to the Employment and industrial relations court for registration.

“On the cost of CBA, SRC gave us beacons and acknowledged we followed the law. On September 30 last year, SRC provided master scales, we never generated any… we understood the status of the economy and agreed to take the master scales as developed by SRC and live to fight another day,” he added. 

For SRC to give a beacon of Sh8.8 billion, Wasonga said IPUCCF must have given them the staff numbers before coming up with beacons and challenged the commission to publish all the details they were given by university councils prior to giving he beacons.

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