Striking lecturers face interdictions starting this week as councils move to pile pressure on them to end their one-month-old work boycott.
Council chairpersons of the 31 public universities who met on Monday under the chairmanship of Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed resolved to direct vice-chancellors to immediately issue “show cause” letters to the striking tutors to clear the path for interdictions of those that failed to provide convincing reasons of staying away from work.
Already, the 1,300 University of Nairobi staff whose March salaries had been withheld were issued with the “show cause” letters.
They had until 5pm on Friday to explain their absence from work or they will be interdicted.
“It has been reported that you were absent from your place of work without permission.
"The act of being on an authorised absence, as stated above, is in violation of Section (44(4)(1) of the Employment Act, 2007, University of Nairobi code of conduct and ethics; Section 8 of the human resource policies and procedures manual for the public service and the terms of service under which you are service,” a letter to a lecturer dated April 6 by Principal of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Enos Njeru reads.
It goes on: “It has therefore been decided that you be, and are hereby required to show cause why disciplinary action should not be taken against you.
"Your written responses addressed to the undersigned should be received within seven days from the date of this letter.
"Please note that failure to comply as required will lead to the said disciplinary action being taken against you, without further reference to you.”
Among the raft of tough measures worked out at the two-hour meeting, the chairpersons also resolved to negotiate separately with lecturers at their universities in an effort end the work stoppage.
In that case, they said, they would succeed in isolating the national leaders of universities academic staff union led by Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga and chairman Muga K’olale who have been leading the countrywide strike that has disrupted learning in most of the universities and colleges.
University Education and Research Principal Secretary Micheni Ntiba wrote to the universities asking them to negotiate with their individual staff directly.
“Reference is made to the meeting on April 9 at Jogoo House and which was attended by chairpersons of public universities and constituent colleges.
"You recall during the meeting it was restated that councils are the employers of university staff.
"The councils therefore are expected to handle all matters affecting staff in the respective universities, including the collective bargaining agreements (CBAs),” Prof Ntiba said in the letter.
At Moi University, vice-chancellor Isaac Kosgey wrote to the staff indicating there won’t be salaries for those on strike.
On Saturday, Dr Wasonga laughed off threats directed to university staff by their employers and the government.
“We are used to such threats. I am aware that a number of staff have been issued with show cause letter[s] and they do not need to worry. We will deal with it when we return to work as we will work on a tight return-to-work formula,” Dr Wasonga said.