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Kenya’s public university lecturers call off 78-day strike

Kenya’s public university lecturers have called off their strike, which had paralysed learning for 78 days.

University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) decided to go back to work on Thursday evening after day-long negotiations at the Ministry of Labour offices, which were led by Ms Hellen Apiyo, a conciliator from the ministry.

Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga said they had decided to call off the strike after considering the welfare of students. “We have made this decision to allow time for negotiations, and we hope the government will be serious with the talks,” said Dr Wasonga.

Vice-Chancellors Committee Chairman Francis Aduol said the universities will engage the union in negotiations in order to end perennial strikes.

Ms Apiyo welcomed the development, saying the parties should embrace dialogue and avoid strikes.

No job loss

Inter Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum Chairman Paul Kanyari said no lecturer will be victimised, and that they will be paid their salaries. “There will be no job loss, loss of benefits and both parties agree to withdraw all court cases relating to the strike,” said Prof Kanyari.

Both parties agreed that the semester be extended to cover for the lost time.

Dr Wasonga said they had rejected Ksh3.6 billion ($35.9 million) to allow for fresh negotiations.

The lectures have been demanding that the government tables the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) counter proposal for negotiation and implementation.

However, Kenya University staff union (Kusu) Secretary-General Charles Mukhwaya said the strike is still on as they are yet to reach an agreement with the government.

“As Kusu, we were to meet the negotiating team, but the meeting did not take place as Uasu was meeting them,” said Dr Mukwaya

On Monday, the government offered the lecturers a 1.75 per cent basic salary increment spread out over four years, but no increase on house allowance.

The salary increase translates to 0.435 per cent annual increment. On mortgages and car loans, the proposal says that individual university councils will negotiate with their Uasu chapters.

“Other terms and conditions of service currently in force as agreed by the respective councils shall remain unchanged, except where circumstances allow individual councils to harmonise or improve the same,” adds the counter-offer document.

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