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Editorials

EDITORIAL: Resolve university strikes

Members of the Universities Staff Academic Union during a protest on July 3, 2017. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG
Members of the Universities Staff Academic Union during a protest on July 3, 2017. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA | NMG  

University lecturers have once again gone on strike, disrupting learning in public institutions of higher learning countrywide.

Unless something unusual happens, one can bet that it will take weeks or months before the government sits down with them to craft a return- to- work agreement. This means students are in for another round irregular semesters.

Two odd things have, however, happened that should encourage the parties to take labour relations, laws, and talks more seriously.

First, it was wrong for the dons to go right ahead with the stay-away even after Labour minister Ukur Yattani appointed a conciliator to lead the negotiations on the government’s counter offer on the 2017-21 pay proposal.

It would make more sense if the start date of the boycott was altered to test the tone and level of commitment to the negotiations.

Two, although the Labour minister did not indicate when the conciliator was appointed, it is a reflection of bad faith that such a step should be taken at the eleventh hour.

It shows an annoying level of unwillingness to resolve labour disputes legally and without hidden arm-twisting. These endless go-slows and strikes are gnawing at Kenya’s core pillar of growth: quality talent.

Ultimately, the government will have to rethink and review its commitment to public university education.

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