Lecturers want Sh4bn pension cut to end strike

Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga (right) with chairman Mugo Kolale during a past Press briefing .  FILE PHOTO | NMG
Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga (right) with chairman Mugo Kolale during a past Press briefing . FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Lecturers and their employers for the second day running Thursday failed to reach a deal on calling off the one- month strike over unpaid Sh4 billion pension contributions and stalled fresh pay talks.

Universities academic staff union (Uasu) insisted that the issue of separate collective bargaining agreements (CBA) for the 31 public universities, pension for lecturers and talks for 2017-2021 CBA must first be addressed.

“We have not agreed. Three irreducible minimums have not been addressed and therefore the strike is still on,” said Uasu secretary-general Constantine Wasonga.

He said lecturers want firm commitment before calling off the strike and will hold another meeting tomorrow (Saturday).

The Saturday meeting is likely to determine if the strike will hold as Uasu top decision making organ will also be meeting.

Thursday’s meeting started at 11 am and ended at 5pm while Wednesday’s started at 9am and ended at 4pm.

Dr Wasonga said they are demanding Sh4 billion in unremitted pension contributions from 2010, exposing the dons to a smaller retirement package on missed interest from fund’s investments.

“Universities pension scheme is contributory, employer pays 20 per cent and employee 10 per cent. Employees have been paying their money and the employer has not been submitting part of its bargain,” said Dr Wasonga.

The lecturers have been on strike since November 1, accusing the government of reneging on a March pay deal that offered all lecturers a 17.5 per cent pay increase and a 3.9 per cent increase in housing allowances.

The Treasury on November 23 said it will release Sh5.28 billion to meet the pay demands, hoping to pave the way for the end of the strike.

Uasu acknowledged that universities have already received Sh2 billion for salary increase and the remaining Sh3.2 billion will be paid in seven months’ time.

“As far as money is concerned we are sorted out and once we are done with the remaining issues, we will call of the strike,” said Dr Wasonga.

The strike has paralysed learning in public universities and interfered with the academic calendar.

Kenyatta University, Masinde Muliro University, Jomo Kenyatta University of agriculture and technology among others have since closed due to the strike. This is the third lecturers strike this year.

The first was in March, then July and November. Examinations have also been rescheduled to next year.