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BY KORIR JUMA/NAIROBI,8TH MAY 2018-The Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) maintains that their strike will go on telling off the vice chancellors who threatens to sack them.
They have vowed to reject any attempts to force striking lecturers back to class until the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is not negotiated, signed, and a return-to-work formula crafted.
Addressing the press at UASU offices on Tuesday morning, Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga dismissed the recent administrative action by Technical University of Kenya (TUK) instructing the college tutors to sign commitment letters to normalise teaching activities in the pendency of CBA talks.
He termed TUK’s actions as “mere gimmicks” that would not end the current strike by dons and that entered its 69th day on Tuesday.
“TUK just told us the other day that lecturers had overwhelmingly accepted to go and work. Today we’re being told they’ve advertised for part-time lecturers,” Wasonga posed.
“Look for free labour! We’re not boarding!” he declared to laughter from union bosses who attended Tuesday’s media briefing.
Wasonga wondered why TUK had advertised for part-time lecturers if indeed teaching staff had accepted to resume their duties.
“TUK cannot purport that dons have overwhelmingly accepted to go back to class then you advertise for part-time lecturers and it is on record that you do not pay part-time lecturers,” he argued.
Wasonga also accused the University of Nairobi, Moi University, and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology of failing to remit statutory deductions to relevant entities with TUK being singled out as the most notorious with Sh2.1 billion in statutory deductions yet to be remitted.
He says , TUK was holding Sh1 billion in pension deductions, Sh200 million in SACCO remittances, Sh65 million in National Hospital Insurance Fund payments, Sh100 million in outpatient claims, Sh600 million Kenya Revenue Authority returns and Sh25 million in UASU dues.
Wasonga further accused TUK of failing to pay insurance premiums and Higher Education Loans Board.
“You (TUK) owe members statutory deductions in excess of Sh2.1 billion and you want us to call off the strike before we address these injustices? We want to know where these monies went to. They are our monies,” the union boss charged.
UASU has projected that the implementation of its 2017-2021 CBA will cost between Sh38 and Sh40 billion but the Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) is yet to table a counter offer.
The union also accused IPUCCF of bullying striking dons despite the councils’ failure to table a counter offer since UASU declared a nationwide strike on March 1.
Kenyatta University was cited as having called security services into its main campus on Monday where UASU said members were intimidated and a branch union administrator arrested.
Several public universities have maintained that learning remained undisrupted despite work boycotts by lecturers something that has negatively impacted the January- April semester.
TUK was the first public university to report resumption of learning last week after stalled CBA talks between university workers unions and IPUCCF.
In a memo released on April 30, TUK Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration, Planning and Infrastructure Prof Joseph Kiplang’at, said the university’s senate had resolved that all academic activities at the institution resume on May 2.
He said that an overwhelming majority of lecturers at the institution had signed commitment letters to normalise operations.
“It has emerged that an overwhelming number of staff members are willing and ready to continue discharging their duties,” the memo read in part.
The latest strike by public universities lecturers is the fourth in less than fifteen months.