Details about the Kenyan university staff strike 2017

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Written By El Gwaro

University unions have issued a strike notice requesting that the government indulges into negotiations with them over better pay as stipulated by the 2013-17 CBA which the government has failed to honor. They have threatened to boycott until the Kenyan government heeds to their demand even if it takes an entire year. Wait a minute, what’s a CBA?

A collective bargaining agreement (CBA), is a legally enforceable contract for a specified period between the management of an organization (in this case government) and its employees who are represented by independent trade unions. It defines employment conditions (wages, working periods, benefits, etc.) and procedures for dispute resolution.

In 2011 November, Kenyan lecturers went on a weeklong strike complaining of the delayed implementation of new salaries and allowances by the government in accordance with the 2010-2012 CBA.

In addition to the wage grievances, the lecturers were against the government’s decision to double the student intake in the absence of increased staff and infrastructure.

As this new and ‘prosperous’ year kicks off, yet the 2013-2017 CBA still awaits implementation, lecturers and university staff have had enough of the games being played on them.

KUSU and UASU trade unions leaders at the Merica Hotel in Nakuru on January 6, 2017

Trade Unions Congress of Kenya, Deputy General Secretary Charles Mukhwaya pointed out in a press conference that the workers last received a pay rise in 2010. He stressed the need for the plight of university staff to be addressed immediately backing his General Secretary Wilson Sossion who called the President to personally intervene on the matter.

If this CBA is to be fully honored, professors can expect their monthly salaries to increase from the current range of between Sh. 384,000 and Sh. 576,000 to between Sh. 1,152,000 and Sh. 1,800,000. Lower rank workers such as graduate assistants will expect a minimum salary of Sh. 350,000

The UASU and KUSU union officials said this 300% increment will harmonize their salaries with other lecturers across the globe. “We have done research across the world and realized we are the least paid. Even Dar-es-Salaam University next door pays more” said John Mberia, UASU vice-chair. Unions have cautioned continuing students not to report to campuses until an agreement is reached.

Meanwhile, Doctors who have been on strike for the last 5 weeks face the risk of losing their jobs if they don’t return to work. The strike which has paralyzed public health services all through is due to the government failing to fully implement a 2013 CBA which also assured them a 300% rise and other improved conditions.

If this trend continues; where the government agrees to improve the working conditions and wages of employees through CBAs and then fails to implement, we are looking at a labor crisis. This is because other civil servants will also demand improvement in their statuses. We hope the government will delve into this fast-rising matter and amicably agree with the unions.

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