Learning in public universities will be paralysed in a week’s time after the government failed to table a counter proposal to the lecturers’ pay demands.
On Wednesday, the lecturers issued a seven-day strike notice, citing the government and the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum’s failure to honour their commitment to a 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) met the councils’ representatives on Wednesday where the government was expected to table its counter-offer as had been agreed on among the parties on February 13.
Dr Constantine Wasonga, Uasu Secretary-General, said lecturers had no option but to call for a strike until their demands were met.
“Universities academic staff will begin the strike on Thursday, March 1 and remain on strike until the 2017-2021 CBA is concluded,” he said.
According to Dr Wasonga, Wednesday’s missed deadline is the fifth missed opportunity for their employer to make things right.
He said the government had made promises on May 31 and July 1 last year, and on January 31 and February 13 this year to table its offer.
“Uasu expresses disappointment with the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum and the government over the lack of progress in the talks,” he said.
From the beginning, he said, the union had always acted in good faith and had been a committed and active partner in the Joint Negotiations Committee; while the universities councils and Government had not demonstrated a commitment to complete the negotiations.
In a return-to-work formula signed by the councils and Uasu on March 13 last year, the parties agreed that the CBA negotiations “be concluded by May 31 last year, to allow for implementation by July 1 last year”.
Consequently, Uasu presented its proposal in March last year and the other parties failed to meet their end of the bargain.
According to him, the union gave the councils more time to prepare for negotiations but they missed the deadline, blaming it on the last year’s General Election.
Dr Wasonga said despite the parties agreeing to extend the deadline to have the CBA concluded by the end of January this year, no counter proposal has been presented.
“This is despite the government and the councils requesting for more time up to February 12, to allow the new Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and Principal Secretary Japhet Ntiba to settle,” he said.
The lecturers have been on strike three times last year over the 2013-2017 CBA.
They agreed to end the strike in December last year after the government released Sh2 billion for payment of increased salaries and house allowances for lecturers.