Defiant teaching staff from five public universities in North Rift region say they will only return to work after being directed by their union top leadership. The strike, which is now in the third month, has taken a heavy toll on the learning of the more than 30,000 learners from five public learning institutions in the region.
The affected institutions are Moi University, University of Eldoret, Kisii University, Nairobi and Jomo Kenyatta University campuses whose students have been forced to idle due to industrial action by the tutors.
The lecturers have vowed to continue with the countrywide strike until the State implements their negotiated and signed 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Learning in all the respective institutions has remained paralysed, with only a few students idling around the campuses in the hope that the situation will change.
Prof Jack Abok, Moi University’s Academic Staff Union (UASU) chapter Secretary, says they are waiting for further communication from their union’s top leadership in regards to threats by university management and the government for those still on strike.
Abok said they would only take instructions from one centre of communication —their national union Secretary General Constantine Wasonga — on whether to call off the strike. “We will not resume work any time soon as directed by the national government until our leaders tells us the next steps to take,” said Abok.
Already, the Moi University Vice-chancellor Prof Isaac Kosgey has written to the striking tutors indicating the management’s decision to stop their salaries. The VC wrote a show-cause why not letter to the lecturers in a move to force them to end the two month work boycott that has paralysed all learning activities at the institution.
However, the university union official declined to reveal the number of his members on strike who have so far been issued with the show cause letter by the VC. This follows a recent meeting of council of chairpersons of the 31 public learning institutions chaired by Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed that resolved to direct Vice chancellors to immediately issue “show cause” letters to the striking lecturers to pave way for interdiction of defiant lecturers.
The student leaders have asked the government and the university management to have mercy on them by resolving the outstanding issues contained in the CBA amicably to pave way for resumption of normal learning.
Led by Moses Kisia, the chairman of Moi university student’s leader, they asked the government to expedite the implementation of the tutors negotiated 2017-2021 collective bargaining agreement without further delays. “Most of the students are engaging in activities that do not add value to their academic progress and lives due to idleness at the campus and the government needs to move in fast to save the situation,” said Kisia.
He cited a case where some of his female colleagues had resorted to commercial sex work in Eldoret and other major towns in the region due to the tutors strike. Kisia regretted that learners in public universities bore the brunt of the lecturer’s industrial action every time their employers renege on its pledges.