The financial crisis at Egerton University has worsened, with the management board suspending all academic staff union leaders for participating in a “illegal strike.”
The Njoro campus in Nakuru was closed down on November 26 last year when more than 600 lecturers walked out in protest of the university’s failure to fully implement a contentious 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
According to a letter from Stellah Kereto, acting Registrar for Human Capital and Administration, “as a result, you have been absent from duty without authority in violation of Section 44 subsection (30 and subsection (40 of the Employment Act of 2007 Laws of Kenya.”
However, in a swift retort on Tuesday, Uasu chapter officials, led by chairperson Prof Mwaniki Ngari and secretary Grace Kibue, stated that their strike was legal and within labour law, and vowed to continue the strike.
Dr Kibue said in Nakuru City that the union had engaged management to end the strike in vain, accusing management of “dishonest negotiations that have only led to intimidation and efforts to subdue dons to return to work without addressing their grievances.”
She claimed that the union leaders were suspended on Monday without due process as required by law.
She also claimed that the university administration was breaking labor laws by requiring lecturers to work longer hours without pay.
Dr Kibue explained that the university also wants the dons to bear increased workload without a corresponding increase in their salaries, and on top of that, they have withheld our salaries.
She went on to say that the university had failed to implement the Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2017-2021, which has been effectively implemented by over 25 public universities as ordered by a court ruling dated January 15, 2021.
Third-party and statutory deductions, according to union officials, have not been remitted by management since 2017, and the arrears amount to billions of shillings.
The officials stated that they were protesting for their denied labor rights, adding that the strike is lawful and protected by labor laws, and our members shall not resume work until their grievances are addressed and a return to work formula is signed.
The union challenged the university administration to keep all of its promises and pay the lecturers.
Prof Mwaniki stated that the union had over 25 meetings with the university administration and that a reconciliatory team had been formed, but the strike continues.
According to union officials, the dons regret the pain and suffering caused by the strike among students, their parents, and the general public.