Egerton University workers protest over delayed CBA

Egerton University

Egerton University workers representative from left Mr Joshua Orinda (Kudheiha), Mr Kipchumba Ruto (Kusu ), Prof Mwaniki Ngari (Uasu Chapter chairman) and Dr Grace Kibue (Uasu chapter secretary) lead other members to protest the failure by the university management to implement the 2017-2021 CBA on November 4, 2021.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi| Nation Media Group

Hundreds of workers belonging to three unions at Egerton University protested the delay by the university management to implement the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The union members drawn from University Academic Staff Union (Uasu), Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu) and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions, Hospitals and Allied Workers (Kudheiha) claimed that their employer had slashed their salaries and other benefits without consulting union officials.

The union officials accused the university management of failing to remit the statutory deductions running into billions of shillings.

"This is sustained and a systematic act of industrial injustice and university management board cruelty and impunity that comes in the backdrop of implementation of enhanced salary scales in other public universities," read the joint unions' statement.

The statement was signed on behalf of the more than 2,000 workers by their union representatives who included Dr Grace Kibue (Uasu chapter secretary), Mr Ernest Wayaya (Kusu branch secretary), Mr Joshua Orinda (Kudheiha shop steward), Prof Mwaniki Ngari (Uasu chapter chairman), Mr Kipchumba Ruto (Kusu branch chairman) and Mr Joseck Omutsani (Kudheiha).

Biased promotions

The union officials also raised a red flag on what they described as “biased promotions, lack of strategic and cohesive and unifying leadership, high handedness and dictatorial tendencies."

The union officials said the university management was perpetuating "poor and hostile relationships between the university and the neighbouring communities."

Union officials said that although the unions have demonstrated clear goodwill, Egerton University management had taken them round in circles of well-calculated so-called consultative meetings and mind games."

However, responding to the unions grievances, the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor Prof Isaac Ongubo Kibwage denied all the allegations levelled against the management saying the workers' salaries had not been slashed.

"The university management has not slashed their salaries. The challenge the university is facing is the ability to pay the workers' salaries in full and that does not amount to slashing their salaries. The management is aware it owes the workers arrears and when we get money from the exchequer we shall clear the outstanding dues. Our internally generated funds are not enough to pay the workers full salaries. They should be thankful for the little they are getting. You cannot pay what you don't have in your accounts," said Prof Kibwage.

Pay full salaries

He added: "I have allowed the union officials to have access to our books of accounts for transparency and accountability on all the money we receive. The unions know very well the university has no means to generate money internally and the government is not in a position to give money to pay full salaries.

 This idea by the union to whip emotions and threaten to go on strike will not solve the financial problems facing the university. We need to sit both the management and the unions and see how best we can sort out these problems."