Lecturers at Egerton University have given the university management and the government a seven-day warning to honour their 2013-2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Speaking during a press conference on Saturday, the Kenya Universities Staff Union, KUSU, said the over 700 staff members will down their tools if the issues they have raised are not addressed.
“The union is left with no alternative but to give the university seven-day strike notice effective Wednesday, October 5,” they said.
KUSU secretary general Charles Mukhwana called for the university to pay 100% salaries and settle accrued arrears as negotiated in the CBA.
Mukhwana said, “The chilling suffering of our members, the harrowing pain they have to endure to make ends meet, the horrendous conditions they work in is against the International Labour Organisation working conditions to which our dear country is a signatory.”
For seven years, the Nakuru based university has been unable to honour the CBA, which is another reflection of a struggling public university sector. The institution owes KSh6 billion.
Earlier this year, the university Vice Chancellor Isaac Kibwage said the institution is grappling with a KSh77 million deficit for its payroll alone every month due to underfunding.
“The university is broke. Any time we close, the situation gets worse. We are not talking about little money. As of September last year, Egerton had a debt of KSh6.1 billion,” said Kibwage. “The figure continues to rise because some of these debts have compounded interest. We have raised the matter with the Ministry of Education and the Treasury has been informed.”
Countrywide, public universities owe up to KSh56.6 billion.
Egerton University is among several other universities that have been unable to pay lecturers based on signed salary scales under the 2017-2021 CBA, leading to the accumulation of debts.
It was revealed last year that a professor at Egerton was owed a gross arrear of KSh615,408 while an associate professor was owed KSh847,140.
A professor in other institutions like the University of Nairobi is owed KSh307,704, Tom Mboya KSh215,393 and Maasai Mara University KSh481,780
An associate professor at UoN KSh423,564, Tom Mboya KSh296,495, and Maasai Mara KSh663,195.
The 2021–2025 collective bargaining agreements are the subject of initial discussions between universities and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) (CBAs).
Due to a dispute over compensation for the 2017–2021 period , the talks to sign the CBAs were postponed until June 30, 2021, depriving various institutions of the chance to provide counteroffers.