Varsities ‘may cancel semesters’ as dons strike bite

Public universities academic pogrammes for the current semester may be pushed to next year if the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between lecturers and the government is not implemented.

Semester operations, including learning, exams and graduation ceremonies, have been halted as 28 universities and constituent colleges joined the lecturers strike called upon by the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu).

This is the third time this year university lecturers are downing tools. The institutions’ academic calendars have subsequently been adversely affected with lecturers only executing a quarter of workload required. Speaking yesterday at a news conference at the Multi-Media University (MMU) in Rongai, the university Uasu chapter chair Omondi Osano said the graduation ceremony scheduled for next week has been postponed until further notice.

“It is no longer a myth the strike is on and all stakeholders should know that operations have been paralysed until the CBA is fully implemented. The graduation scheduled for next week will not go down if we receive no communication about our payment,” said Osano.

Echoing sentiments by Uasu National Executive Committee on Tuesday, the MMU official accused university administrations of banking money remitted by the government with intent to generate interest in their accounts. The unions have consistently pointed fingers at the administrations pointing out that three universities are currently implementing the CBA.

“The fact that Jaramogi, Chuka and Machakos universities are paying lecturers according to the agreement with the government means the vice chancellors could be keeping the money for selfish interests,” said MMU Uasu secretary general Onesmus Maluki.

But speaking to People Daily by phone, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology vice chancellor Fredrick Otieno dismissed the claims, saying only Sh10 billion was released by the government to the universities.

He accused the three universities of “playing cheap politics and lacking good management skills”, adding that universities were to receive the Sh5.2 billion from the government on July 1.

“Uasu knows very well we have not received the Sh5.2 billion and all they are saying is rubbish. If the employer has not given that money then there is no way we can pay lecturers,” said Otieno.

With the looming crisis between staff members and universities’ managements, the Ministry of Education is yet to shed light on the matter as students continue to bear the consequences of absent lecturers and staff.

The developments also come in the wake of University of Nairobi students reopening next week. It was closed down last month due to security concerns after students engaged the anti-riot police in running battles as they protested the arrest of Embakasi East MP Babu Owino.

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