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Economy

Ghost workers delay end of lecturers strike

Education Secretary Amina Mohamed. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Education Secretary Amina Mohamed. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The presence of ghost workers in the public universities payroll is preventing the government from tabling an offer to the striking lecturers.

Education Secretary Amina Mohamed yesterday told National Assembly’s Education Committee that an offer will be made once the Treasury and Education ministry have vetted the payroll data.

This follows an earlier audit that revealed a lot of inconsistencies in payrolls of various universities, including 2,513 ghost workers and workers earning salaries of higher grades.

Ms Mohamed told MPs that only 15 out of 31 universities have submitted their payrolls for scrutiny, further delaying pay talks to end the nationwide strike that has disrupted learning for the past 16 days.

“The process is ongoing and once completed the counter offer will be communicated to the universities to kick start the negotiations once again,” the CS told the committee.

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Universities have proposed Sh6.8 billion. “We need an audit of our public universities. There is a bigger problem and my visit to Meru University recently was an eye opener,” said the CS.

Public universities submitted a report indicating that they have about 30,312 staff, but a June audit revealed that they have 27,798 staff, a variance of 2,513.

Universities Staff Academic Union members are 8,294, Kenya Universities Staff Union and Kenya Union of Domestic (8,211), Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospital and Allied Workers number 11,292.

Errors and inconsistencies revealed by the audit showed that a significant proportion of staff drawing salaries were not within the scales provided in the collective bargaining agreement.

For instance, there were cases where staff were earning high salaries that are specific to self, others having consolidated salaries with no house allowance, some earning house allowances not aligned to their grade and others earning basic salaries of higher grades.

The public university lecturers went on strike on March 11 over low pay, nearly three months after ending a similar protest.

They want Sh38 billion for a pay agreements covering the four years starting July 2017 to 2021.

They are also demanding services available to other public servants like car loans and higher quality medical insurance.

A strike over the pay grievances ended last December after the lecturers said they had reached an agreement with the government for a rise in salaries.
Sixteen out of 31 public universities are in a deep financial crisis, said vice chancellors.

The vice chancellors committee chairman Francis Aduol said the institutions are unable to meet the basic salary needs of their workers and other obligations and require immediate intervention.

The issue has been worsened by a cut in government funding to universities, he said, adding that the institutions were desperate.

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