Public university lecturers Wednesday started a strike over pay, joining nurses who have boycotted work for five months and deepening a crisis in the public service.
The University Academic Staff Union (Uasu), which has about 9, 000 members, said they would boycott work at 30 of Kenya’s 33 public universities until their pay demands are met.
The union accused the government of reneging on a March pay deal that offered lecturers a 17.5 per cent pay increase and a 3.9 per cent rise in housing allowances.
The deal was for the period starting 2013 to 2017. The government paid Sh10 billion arrears for the period, but failed to effect the monthly pay raise.
This means that the lecturers’ current pay is based on a 2010 salary deal and not the March agreement said Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga.
“We have launched a strike and won’t go back until we get the new salaries plus four-month arrears,” he said, adding that only three universities - Jaramogi, Chuka, and Machakos - had started paying the new salaries.
The strike will be the third one this year in an academic year that has also been disrupted by the August 8 General Election and last week’s repeat presidential poll, interrupting semester schedules.
Students set to complete their studies this month and in December will be the hardest hit by the fresh industrial dispute.
University bosses under their grouping — Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum — say the failure to implement the new salary scales was due to financial shortfall.
The prolonged electioneering period has slowed down business and cut government revenue by Sh51.41 billion in the three months to September.
“We are talking to them as there is no need for the strike. The government has committed to pay, and once we get the money, we will pay,” said Paul Kanyari, the forum’s chairperson.