Egerton lecturers pay row delays classes, graduation

Striking Egerton University lecturers outside the Njoro Campus on November 4. They downed their tools over salary deductions. 


Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The lecturers however blame the cash crisis on inept management.
  • On Wednesday, an inter parties hearing between Egerton and Uasu at the Employment and Labour Relations Court failed to kick off after the university’s lawyers failed to turn up.

Learning at Egerton University remained paralysed for the second week running as lecturers and the institution’s management failed to agree on a return-to-work formula.

The stalemate at the financially troubled institution has dashed the hopes of about 2,000 students who were set to graduate in December. The November 2 examinations for Fourth Year students were also disrupted by the strike that started on November 4.

The university has also suspended indefinitely the phased resumption of face-to-face classes for all continuing students in its Njoro and Nakuru Town campuses.

The more than 500 lecturers who are members of the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) downed their tools agitating for the withdrawal of a 40 percent pay cut effected in April. The university based its decision on a 26 percent reduction in government capitation since 2015.

Self-sponsored students

The university added that tuition fees for both regular and self-sponsored students, its biggest source of internal revenue, had dropped drastically in the last four years.

The lecturers however blame the cash crisis on inept management.

 “The strike will only be called off if all our members are paid their accruing arrears from April. We shall not accept the continued oppression of our members under the guise of an economic downturn because of Covid-19,” said Uasu National Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga.

On Wednesday, an inter parties hearing between Egerton and Uasu at the Employment and Labour Relations Court failed to kick off after the university’s lawyers failed to turn up.

The court ordered the university to file submissions within 14 days and serve Uasu to respond.

The university had moved to court in a bid to stop the strike which it argues is “unlawful, unwarranted, and amounts to bad industrial relations”, but has on two occasions — November 3 and November 11 — had its request to declare the strike illegal dismissed. Egerton University is facing one of its worst financial crises since its inception some 81 years ago.

Leadership crisis

The university is facing a leadership crisis with Vice-Chancellor Rose Awuor Mwonya’s term coming to an end on January 12. The government is yet to initiate the process to recruit her replacement.

At the same time, sources intimated to the Nation that the university council has initiated changes in the top echelons with the suspension of three top managers on corruption allegations.

Reached for comment, council chairman Luka Hukka Wario could neither deny nor confirm the impending changes.

“At the moment, I can't divulge any information. Nothing has been confirmed yet. Things can change but I’m sure you will get more information from your other sources,” said Dr Wario.

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