Learning at public universities is set to be paralysed today when lecturers go on strike over the delayed implementation of a pay rise agreement.
The strike follows the decision by universities to revert to previous salaries and allowances after implementing Sh10 billion arrears that were running to June 30.
Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) secretary-general Constantine Wasonga yesterday asked all lecturers in 31 public universities not to turn up for work until the government addresses their demands.
The union accused the government of reneging on the March pay deal that offered lecturers a 17.5 per cent pay increase and a 3.9 per cent increase in housing allowances.
The March deal was for the period starting 2013 to 2017 and saw the government award Sh10 billion in arrears, but failed to effect the monthly pay rise.
This means that the lecturers’ current pay is based on a 2010 salary deal, Dr Wasonga said.
“There is no turning back unless the government implements the new rates for both basic salary and house allowance. It is time to strike, strike and strike,” said Dr Wasonga.
He announced that the strike will be launched at the University of Nairobi grounds at 8am after the expiry of a 21-day notice.
The strike will be the third one this year in an academic year that has also been disrupted by two presidential elections. There are more than 27,798 university staff, 9,000 of them lecturers.
Yesterday, heads of universities said they had not received a strike communication from the Ministry of Education. The inter-public universities council’s consultative forum chairman, Prof Paul Kanyari, said universities were waiting for funds from the government.
“We request for enduring industrial harmony so that any attendant matters hereof can be resolved expeditiously and to the benefit of all stakeholders without prejudicing the amenity currently being experienced,” said Prof Kanyari.
He said the failure to implement the new salary scales was due to a financial shortfall. Lecturers will join government nurses who have been on strike since June, deepening a crisis in the public service.
The prolonged electioneering period has slowed down business and cut government revenue by Sh51.41 billion in the three months to September.
Adding to the squeeze, the electoral board used Sh12 billion for the presidential re-run. The government cut non-essential expenditure like travel to fund the poll.