Economy

Court backs Sh14 billion pay deal for varsity staff

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From right: Uasu vice chairman Joseph Mberia, secretary-general Constantine Wasonga and chairman Muga K’olale last October. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Justice Maureen Onyango agreed with the lecturers’ unions and the Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) that capping the budget at Sh8.8 billion was not sufficient.
  • The SRC had wanted the implementation of the terms in the CBA based on the allocated amount of Sh8.8 billion, which is inclusive of all associated costs, including pension liabilities from the review of three CBAs.

More than 10,000 employees of public universities have scored a major victory after the Employment and Labour Court directed the Treasury and the Education ministry to set aside additional funds for the implementation of a long-pending Sh13.8 billion pay deal between the institutions and their unions.

Justice Maureen Onyango agreed with the lecturers’ unions and the Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) that capping the budget at Sh8.8 billion was not sufficient to implement three Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) signed between the two parties.

“From what is on record, I can conclude that previous CBA, or to be specific the immediate past CBA, was implemented in exactly the same way as proposed by the unions and as provided in the implementation matrix of all the three CBAs as presented to the court,” the judge said.

However, the judge noted that the implementation as proposed by the Salaries and Remuneration (SRC) had excluded annual increments.

He directed the Education ministry, the Treasury, the SRC to work with the IPUCCF to make provision for additional budgetary allocation necessary for implementation of the CBAs.

“The court said the computation by the implementation committee of IPUCCF was accurate and that the figure Sh8.8 billion is not sufficient to implement the CBAs as it did not include the annual increments and the resultant pension liabilities payable by IPUCCF members on behalf of their staff,” the judge said.

The SRC had wanted the implementation of the terms in the CBA based on the allocated amount of Sh8.8 billion, which is inclusive of all associated costs, including pension liabilities from the review of three CBAs.

The CBAs had been signed by University Academic Staff Union (UASU), Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha). Public universities and unions held consultative meetings last year on how to implement the CBA and arrived at S Sh13.8 billion.

Ruth Kirwa, who represented the universities, said although the employers had signed the CBA and received advice, some clauses in the CBA needed to be reviewed, including those on retirement age and the implementation of the master scales, so that it could fit within the amount that had been allocated by the government.

The SRC, for its part, said the costing was above budgetary allocation and if implemented, challenges would arise.

It further challenged the retirement clause, saying it needed to be aligned with the policy in the public sector.

“It is clear from the foregoing that SRC acknowledges that the annual increment is payable. It is further clear that the same was included in the CBAs as approved by SRC and further that it is the exclusion of the annual increment together with the resultant increment in pension liability by the public universities that caused the difference between the Sh8.8 billion proposed by SRC and Sh13.8 billion,” the judge said.

She said the CBAs signed and registered as well as the computation by the implementation committees of the universities was correct and is based on the unaltered matrix as presented to the IPUCCF and SRC.

On the retirement age, the judge noted that one of the CBAs put it a 65 and another 75. But in the ruling she said retirement age for public servants is 60 years, adding that parties cannot negotiate outside public policy and guidelines.

“The current practice as set out in the pension schemes for universities, the policies and guidelines and the provisions of any law that governs retirement age in the public sector shall apply,” the judge ruled.