EDITORIAL: Varsity pay deal impasse must be resolved quickly

Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The current uncertainty overshadowing talks for a new pay deal between lecturers and universities is a big concern that requires urgent action to avert a possible collapse.

Deal-making is about trust and transparency, and both sides at the table must learn to live with that for the sake of progression in the talks for a fresh collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

It is unfortunate that a party in the talks, the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu), has threatened to pull out of the negotiations, citing non-commitment by the management of the various universities.

This is a bad sign for the negotiations and quick steps should be taken to restore order before matters get out of hand. Crafting a favourable CBA requires a collaborative effort from both sides to limit the risk of rejection or long-drawn haggling that only works up emotions leading to irrational decisions and demands.

The back-to-back lecturers’ strikes in 2017 caused untold damage not only to the university learning calendars but also to the individual work and life plans of students, their parents and guardians.

Education involves long-term planning of key inputs such as finances and disruption of learning calendars causes major distress to parents and guardians. The disturbance also comprises the quality of learning in the affected institutions.

The country cannot afford another lecturers’ strike this early in the year. Both sides at the negotiating table must treat the talks with the respect and urgency they deserve.

The union has raised concern over persistent postponement of the launch of the 2017-2012 CBA negotiations by the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum.

We find this rather irresponsible on the part of the IPUCCF because it erodes the trust in the negotiations and only escalates acrimony between it and the union.

Keeping off the negotiation table, for whatever reason, is always a rude sign to the other party. The IPUCCF should not shy off from freely tabling its position for discussion.