Wangui Githugo @Wango_G
Sharp divisions have emerged among university staff unions over the ongoing strike after one union pulled out of the industrial action.
Kenya Union of Domestic Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha), which represents non-teaching staff, yesterday asked its members to resume duty pending hearing and determination of a court case on the matter.
The development came even as other unions—Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) and Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu)—defied a court order to resume work and insisted the strike is on until their demands are met. Lecturers are pushing for the negotiation and signing of the 2017-2021 CBA.
The strike which began on March 1, initially was backed by four unions although the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has been silent on the go-slow that has paralysed learning in 31 public universities and constituent colleges.
And yesterday, Kudheiha secretary general Albert Njeru told its members to resume duty with immediate effect. “We will be issuing further communication to our members. We will obey the court order…as workers who know about social dialogue,” he said in a press conference.
And asked whether Kudheiha’s withdrawal would affect the strike, Uasu secretary general Constantine Wasonga said: “Kudheiha have the democratic right to quit the strike but we will not be cowed. All our members should stay put. We are not going back without a counter proposal.
No one has powers to ask lecturers to call off the strike except the union.” Last week, the Employment and Labour Relations court declined to set aside orders declaring the strike illegal.
The Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (Ipuccf) has since directed universities’ managements to sack lecturers and other staff who would not have showed up for work beginning yesterday.
Meanwhile, Education Cabinet secretary Amina Mohamed yesterday met with universities councils chairpersons and union officials at Jogoo House in a bid to resolve the stalemate.
In a statement sent to the newsroom, Education Principal secretary Prof Micheni Ntiba said meeting was meant to chart the way forward. People Daily also learnt that Uasu is expected to informally meet Amina to discuss the way forward and hopefully kick-start the process of negotiating and signing the 2017-2022 CBA.