Egerton University strike: New VC meets Uasu to end stalemate

Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage

Egerton University Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage during the orientation of First Year students at the Njoro Campus. 


Photo credit: Francis Mureithi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The more than 500 dons downed their tools on November 4 over 40 per cent pay cut.
  • Prof Kibwage has tough choices to clean up the institution's seemingly worsening financial mess.  

Egerton University Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage held a crisis meeting with Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) to convince the lecturers to suspend their ongoing strike.

The more than 500 dons downed their tools on November 4 over 40 per cent pay cut.

Prof Kibwage was appointed last Friday after the embattled VC Prof Rose Mwonya was forced to quit before her term ended officially on January 12, 2021.

The Monday meeting also discussed the financial crisis that has disrupted learning at the Njoro and Town campuses.

However, efforts to end the lecturers' strike, which is on its third week, did not yield any dividends as the dons wanted a commitment from Prof Kibwage and his team to stop the 40 per cent pay cut which took effect in April.

“We held a daylong meeting with the acting VC and his management team on Monday. We want them to put their commitment in writing before we can agree to call off the strike," said a Uasu official who attended the meeting.

Salary arrears

The union official said they were happy with the talks initiated by Prof Kibwage to end the stalemate.

“There was no breakthrough but the negotiations will continue as the acting VC seems approachable and there is hope for more talks to end the strike and restore our full salaries very soon," added the union official.

While launching the strike on November 4, Uasu national Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga said that the strike would only be called off if all the union members are paid their accruing salary arrears dating back to April.

"We shall not accept the continued oppression of our members under the guise of an economic downturn because of Covid-19," said Dr Wasonga.

Prof Kibwage has tough choices to clean up the institution's seemingly worsening financial mess.  

The former University of Nairobi don is also expected to meet the council's audit sub-committee members to chart the way forward following a recent damning report by Ms Theodora Gichana, the Inspector – General (Corporations) which revealed how the institution lost millions of shillings in fraudulent deals.

Sources told the Nation that Pro Kibwage is expected to announce a raft of measures aimed at restoring sound financial management that has seen the institution reel on Sh3.3 billion debt.

Some members of staff who are on contract are now panicking over the possible purge and reshuffles in the audit and accounts departments. But some lecturers said the purge is long overdue.  

fmureithi@ke.nationmedia.com  

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