Date: 20 January 2017 05:41
University lecturers union officials on Friday said they are ready to negotiate with the government to end their nationwide strike that on Thursday.
Speaking while officially launching the strike at Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology, University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) secretary-general Constantine Wesonga said they are ready to negotiate with the government while their union workers are at home.
"As a union we are ready to negotiate but we will do so when our members are outside because we know IPUCCF is not a sincere group. They have taken us round for the last four years and what we are saying is we want serious negotiations so that workers in public universities can enjoy what is rightfully theirs. We are going to strike for as long as it takes," said Wesonga.
Wesonga said university workers have since 2008 being forced to strike to bargain saying that is a culture that must end.
"We have been forced to strike to bargain and this culture must stop. This culture must change. Employees in public universities are demoralized, they cannot work effectively and quality of education is compromised in this country. Can the employees in public universities be given what is rightfully theirs," said Wesonga.
The unionist complained that University lecturers and workers have been sidelined compared to workers in other public sectors.
"Teachers have been given their dues, that is theirs. Other civil servants are also soon signing their CBAs what about public university employees? What is wrong? Why can't we sit down talk, resolve this thing amicably? Can employees in public universities be given what is rightfully theirs, the economy is one, we go to the same shops, same hospitals," they said
"We also need to take our children to good schools, its sad that we are teaching in public universities while we cannot afford to pay for our children fee in same institutions. We are aslo citizens of this country," said Wesonga.
Uasu National Vice Chairperson Joseph Mberia said since the creation of the union in 2003, the government has failed to increase the lecturers salaries without them having to strike to get heard terming the latest IPUCCF's three percent pay increment offer as painful and disheartening.
"What is three percent to people who have had no pay increase in the last four years? This strike will go on for as long as it takes. Three percent of 10,000 is only 300 which cannot buy even half a kilo of meat. Seriously,why are we being insulted by our own government which we have served so diligently? What is our mistake? We need somebody in the government to tell us who is the owner of public universities," added Mberia.
Mberia said university lecturers are the main stakeholders in the economy of this country through their human resource development.
"Even the president had to pass through our hands for him to be where he is, the cabinet secretaries, permanent secretaries none of them is what he/she is without having to pass through our hands,"
He said Uasu members will remain on strike for as long as it takes even if it forces the government to close down public universities.
On matters court, the unionists said they have not been served with any orders barring the strike.
"We are very serious citizens, we have not see any court order and it is too late it cannot be served now when we are already on strike.Any order coming our way shall be inconsequential and immaterial," said Mberia.
Mberia however asked lecturers to hold peaceful demos but paralyse learning and normal activities at all public universities.
"There's is no returning to work until a return to work formula is negotiated. Be peaceful and avoid destruction but withdraw your labour. Also walk with your ATM cards so that when the cash gets in, we can declare the strike off," he told the members.
JKUAT Uasu chapter chairperson Naftaly Rogara Muiga suspended the university's internal CBA protests during the entire period within which the lecturers will be participating in the national strike.