Kenya: Union support for university lecturers’ strike move

The Trade Unions Congress of Kenya has announced its support for lecturers in 31 Kenyan public universities who have given 21 days’ strike notice after the universities’ councils failed to increase their basic salary and housing allowance.

The Trade Unions Congress of Kenya (TUC-Kenya) is backing the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU), its affiliate, in its proposed strike action. The strike, if the conflict is not satisfactorily resolved during the three-week notification period, will be limited to the 31 public universities.

The strike notice results from the failure of university administrations to fully implement salary scales as provided in the 2013-2017 collective bargaining agreement. A salary increment of KSh10 billion (around €82 million) was included in the agreement. However, it was only partially honoured by the government.

Violation of rights

“We will protest the blatant violation of the university workers’ fundamental rights and freedoms under Article 41 and Chapter 4 of the Constitution of Kenya,” said UASU General Secretary Constantine Wasonga in a message to the council presidents of Kenya’s public universities.

It was deeply regrettable, he said, that “the government had not shown any commitment to resolving the issue amicably”, adding that “we will not engage universities’ management any more since they are not sincere”.

Wasonga warned that all UASU members in public universities and related colleges will withdraw their services and not resume duty until the deal is fully implemented, and that their industrial action will kick off on 31 October.

Support

The TUC-Kenya’s support was issued by its General Secretary Wilson Sossion in a letter to the council presidents. “We have an obligation as a Labour Centre to which the UASU is an affiliate, to demand … that you implement the collective bargaining agreement in dispute without further delay.” Sossion is also President of Education International’s Africa Regional Committee.

The council’s failure to implement the agreement meant that the UASU was “within the law to issue the above notice of strike”, Sossion underlined, and that the TUC-Kenya will support and stand with the planned action of the UASU.

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