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VCs, unions trade blame over strike

Wangui Githugo and Noven Owiti @PeopleDailyKe

University Vice Chancellors Committee (VCC) and the four staff unions yesterday continued to trade blame over the nationwide lecturer’s strike. Committee chair Prof Francis Aduol, who is also Technical University of Kenya Vice Chancellor said the decision to call for a strike when negotiations were in progress was in bad faith.

He said they were deeply concerned about the strike which is hurting the running of public universities considering the institutions are yet to recover from a similar industrial action recently.

“The Vice Chancellors committee wishes to urge the unions to call off the industrial action and allow for more time for consultations and negotiations,” he said in a statement to newsrooms.

However, speaking yesterday at University of Nairobi where the non-teaching staff joined lecturers for the strike, the unions accused the VCC of blocking the Universities’ Academic Union (Uasu) from having fruitful negotiations with the Ministry of Education.

Uasu National Trustee George Osanjo told journalists that in the negotiations jumpstarted last year by the Inter-Public Universities Council Consultative Forum (Ipuccf), the committee took over “and have been calling the shots” mandated to Ipuccf.

“The vice chancellors committee has been hesitant on giving the cost of the 2017-2021 CBA because of selfish interests. During and after our negotiations, the committee has been making sure that Ipuccf does not meet the Ministry over lecturers’ dues,” he said.

Aduol, on the other hand, said a change of guard at the ministry is delaying the tabling of a counter- offer by the government. “The industrial action has been invoked although there is goodwill from Ipuccf and key stakeholders to address the matters of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) 2017-2021,” he said.

But speaking to People Daily on phone, Uasu secretary general Constantine Wasonga accused the VCs of “utter deception”. “University councils and the government violated the return-to-work formula that saw them agree to negotiate and implement the 2017-21 CBA by July 1, 2017.

The forum reneged on its promises to table the counter-offer on May 31 and July 1, 2017, and on January 31, February 13 and February 21, 2018,” he said.

Union of Domestic Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha), Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (Kmpdu) and Kenya University Staff Union (Kusu) called for the strike last week after the government failed to implement CBA.

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