Blow for striking lecturers as SRC blocks house perks rise

Uasu Secretary General Constatine Wasonga addresses striking lecturers during  a past demonstration in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE
Uasu Secretary General Constatine Wasonga addresses striking lecturers during a past demonstration in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE 

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has blocked a fresh review of university lecturers’ house allowances in what could prolong the tutors’ strike, which has entered its fourth week.

In an advisory opinion to universities management copied to Education secretary Fred Matiang’i , SRC chief executive Anne Gitau said house allowances for university staff should be retained at the current rates.

She also asked that the Sh10 billion offered to university workers be spread over four years, subject to its availability. Two unions, the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and the Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu), said their members will not resume work at the 33 public universities until their demands are met. Uasu mainly represents lecturers while Kasu’s members are administrative and technical staff.

The university staff wants a 30 per cent basic salary increase per year for four years and a 20 per cent rise in house allowance per year for the same period.

“House allowance for employees represented by the three unions (Uasu, Kusu and Kidheiha) to be retained at current rates,” said Mrs Gitau.

A professor at the university takes home a house allowance of Sh70,889 while an assistant lecturer gets Sh49,623.

Kusu members get about Sh70,883 while the lowest paid gets Sh17,000. Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha) members have already signed a pay deal with the universities. The union represents cleaners, caterers and housekeepers. The highest paid will receive Sh25,376 up from Sh15,843 while the lowest paid will get Sh14,959 from Sh9,485 under the deal.

In house allowances, the highest paid will get Sh11,056 from Sh10,371 while the lowest will get Sh6,714 from Sh6,502. This means that the deal between Kudheiha and the universities could be derailed by SRC advice.

Universities have been advised that the top earner should not be paid more than 10 times compared to the lowest earning staff.

“One of the ways you may address this is by awarding a higher percentage increment at lower grades of the salary and lower per cent increment at the higher grades,” said Mrs Gitau.

Uasu said Sh10 billion was only a 3.2 per cent increase in basic salary and 1.6 per cent increase in allowances.

The lecturers’ strike started on January 19, joining doctors who have been striking for more than five weeks, deepening a crisis in the public services as the country heads towards elections.

The striking doctors want a 300 per cent pay rise which they say they were promised in 2013.