Universities’ Unions appearing before the Senate Committee on Education have on Thursday have chastised the ministry of Education, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, Vice chancellors and the Inter-Public University Council Consultative Forum for being an impediment to negotiations on their 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
They claim the aforementioned have not tabled any counter offer to start off meaningful negotiations that can end the ongoing strike which kicked off a fortnight ago.
The Unions led by University Academic Staff Union Secretary General Constantine Wesonga said “The academic staff in Kenya are overworked yet poorly paid”. He said Public Universities are receiving funds from the treasury as well as from the parallel programs but these funds cannot be accounted for. Kenya Universities Staff Union Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya told the committee that universities have two to three payrolls which are illegal.
He said most universities have exaggerated on the number of employees on their payroll. He said the curtains on perennial university strikes will be brought down once the bureaucratic processes involved in CBA negotiations are stopped.
The Unions also revealed that public Universities have not been remitting statutory deductions such as pension scheme, National Insurance Hospital Fund as well as co-operative societies and bank loans yet they are deducting these monies from their employees.
They singled out Moi University which they said owes employees 598 million shillings in pension remittances while Nakuru County based higher learning institution Egerton University owes its staff 122 million shillings in Saccos contributions. They lamented that a time without number, their employees and their families have been turned away by hospitals due to non-remittances.
It is also claimed that Universities have no standardized retirement age with some retiring their dons at 65 others at 75 years.
The unions urged the senate to carry out investigations into these claims and proposed that any negotiations should involve officials from the treasury, Office of the President and the ministry of Education.
The Committee Chair Dr. Christopher Langat promised to get to the bottom of the issues which he said were weighty by inviting the Vice Chancellors Committees as well as the officials from the ministry of Education to shed more light on the claims.
Professor Sam Ongeri the committee Member and Senator for Kisii County warned that, if these issues will not be resolved, they will water down Kenyan education system which has made some strides over the years.
Nominated Senator Agnes Zani as well as Okongo Omogeni both members of the committee said the issues articulated by the University unions are criminal in nature and must be properly investigated.