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VCs want court to stop lecturers' strike

Tuesday March 6 2018

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Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu), Kenya University Staff Union and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union officials launch their strike at the University of Nairobi College of Health Sciences, Kenyatta National Hospital, on March 1,2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAUREEN KAKAH
By MAUREEN KAKAH
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The Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum has moved to court in a bid to block lecturers and university workers from downing their tools over salaries.

The forum has sued the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) in a case in which the ministries of Education and Labour, the National Treasury the Attorney-General and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission are listed as interested parties.

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Through lawyer Ruth Kirwa, the forum accuses Uasu of issuing fresh demands with a seven-day ultimatum that must be met or else its members go on strike.

The forum is also accusing the union of acting in bad faith saying that its actions would sabotage or hamper harmonious ongoing negotiations on salary review with regards to the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“It is imperative and of urgency that this court issues an injunction against the industrial action called for by Uasu as it is unlawful and will disrupt the forum’s operations unjustifiably as well as set a bad precedent for industrial relations,” said Ms Kirwa.

The forum told court Tuesday that it has not refused or failed to engage in negotiations with Uasu with regards to the implementation of the disputed 2011-2021 CBA.

“The forum has been holding consultative meetings and negotiations on the matter affecting the CBA which is yet to be concluded but are at a fairly advanced stage, the strike notice is in total disregard of the Labour Relations Act and in violation of the law,” said Ms Kirwa.

Lectures have threatened to go on strike over the failure on the part of the forum to participate in negotiations, signing and implementing the 2017-2021 CBA.

Vice Chancellors’ Committee had blamed Uasu and Kenya Universities Academic Staff Union (Kusu) of deliberately backing out of talks on salary review yet there is a mutually agreed ongoing process to resolve the stalemate.

The two unions have also publicly urged their members to boycott work, citing lack of goodwill from the Forum on reaching a deal on the disputed CBA.

While lecturers strike was set to kick off as from March 1, the forum now wants Uasu members barred from calling or taking part in an unprotected strike pending the hearing and determination of the case.

In case documents, the forum alleged that there is no deadlock yet and that it will suffer irreparably if the lecturers proceed with the threatened strike.

“Students are in the middle of their school sessions and the unprotected strike will cause disruptions, frustrations, hamper reasonable attendance to class as well as examinations and interfere with whole academic calendar of universities,” said Ms Kuria.

It also pointed out the dates which seven meetings on the matter have been held with the latest being on February 21.

Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Onesmus Makau said the matter will be heard on Friday before he issues any temporary orders.