Egerton University graduation hangs in the balance

Striking Egerton University lecturers and non-teaching staff protest at the Njoro campus on November 9, 2021 due to delayed implementation of the 2017-2021 CBA.

Egerton University’s 44th graduation ceremony hangs in the balance due to the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) Chapter strike which begins tomorrow.   

Despite the university facing one of its worst financial crises, Uasu members have vowed to paralyse learning at the Njoro-based campus ahead of next month’s graduation ceremony.

The industrial action comes following the expiry of a seven-day-strike notice to Egerton University management. The notice was copied to the local labour officer as stipulated in the industrial dispute laws.

"The strike is to compel the reluctant Egerton University management to implement the 2017-2021 national Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) as per the January 2021 Environment and Labour Relations Court ruling," said Uasu in a statement.

Third party deductions

Added the statement: “The union members want their employer to comply with the negotiated, signed and mutually binding Return-To-Work-Formula signed on November 30, 2020, by the then Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage and union representatives.”

Prof Kibwage has since been appointed Egerton University’s sixth vice chancellor. 

According to the return to work formula, the two parties unanimously agreed that the employer shall immediately reinstate 100 per cent salary payment to all academic staff from November 2020, including the remittance of all statutory and third party deductions.

 It was also agreed that the university shall pay salary arrears from April to October 2020 at the rate of 50 per cent per month with effect from November 2020.

The two parties had also agreed to review the performance of the agreement in February this year, and that there shall be no victimisation of any academic staff due to industrial action.

Financial information

The institution was supposed to furnish the union with any additional financial information regarding the university financial position to facilitate payment of arrears within a shorter period.

However, Prof Kibwage said the university was facing a financial crisis. As the crisis deepens, students have urged the two parties to resolve the matter amicably to enable them to graduate next month.

"My graduation is special to me. I'm the only member of my family who has attained university education. If my graduation is delayed, I will never forgive the management for failing to listen to the union and agree on the way forward," said a student from North-Eastern region.

"I'm tired of this drama between Egerton University management and our lecturers. Since I joined this university in 2017 not a single year has passed without confrontation. Why can't the two parties reason together?" posed another student.

"I think the two parties have reached a dead end and they should agree on a way forward," said a third-year Law student.

Last week senior management staff were forced to supervise supplementary examinations after lecturers boycotted work to demand a salary increase.

Uasu Egerton Chapter Secretary Grace Kibue said the workers will continue to fight for their rights and no amount of "threats and intimidation will stop them.