Lecturers and non-teaching staff at six public universities defied a court order and held demonstrations to demand full salary and remittance of statutory deductions.
The marches could disrupt learning and other activities even as First Year students started reporting last week.
Continuing students have also begun reporting for the new academic year.
The workers accuse university managers of underpaying them and failing to comply with a January 15 court order.
Lecturers and non-teaching staff at Multimedia University (MMU) and Technical University of Kenya (TUK) held demos at the institutions.
MMU was shut indefinitely Wednesday. Vice-Chancellor, Festus Kaberia, directed students to clear from the university by 6pm.
“Staff went on strike from September 13, paralysing learning and general operations of the university,” Prof Kaberia said in a notice.
The VC added that the strike led to demonstrations by students, who attempted to block traffic on Magadi Road.
University Academic Staff Union (Uasu) MMU Chapter Secretary Onesmus Maluki Mutio, who is also the national organising secretary, said workers have not been getting the pay they were awarded in the collective bargaining agreement.
“Universities got a share of the Sh2.2 billion from the National Treasury but they have not implemented the new salary scale,” Dr Mutio told the Daily Nation Wednesday.
TUK Vice-Chancellor, Francis Aduol, said employees who abscond or defy directions from their seniors, intimidate others or cause interference of work should be reported to the management.
Prof Aduol added that those destroying university property or infringing on the rights of others would face disciplinary action.
“The university management requires that you ensure members of staff are at their duty stations,” Prof Aduol’s notice to departmental heads dated September 13 reads.
Lecturers and other TUK employees had issued a notice for the march.
The demo went on for the better part of yesterday morning.
Egerton University lecturers and other employees also held a march at the institution Wednesday.
Release all dues
Kenya Universities Staff Union (Kusu) Organising Secretary, Ernest Wayaya, said the workers would resume duty only after getting all their dues.
“We have written to the university managers many times but they have not released our money as per the pay deal. We are ready to work but must get our money first,” Mr Wayaya said.
Egerton University Acting VC, Isaac Kibwage, said every cent the institution received from the National Treasury went to employees’ pay arrears.
“We have not squandered the money as some are saying. We pay as soon as it is received. We ask our employees to understand and be patient as Egerton is in a financial crisis,” Prof Kibwage said.
Last week, dons and non-teaching staff at Maseno, Meru and Cooperative universities also held demos at their institutions, demanding full pay and remittance of statutory deductions.
The Daily Nation team learnt that staff from other universities are planning similar demonstrations while others are in talks with management.
Uasu Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga defended the picketing and denied reports that the workers defied a directive stopping the nationwide strike that was to take place last month.
“The Constitution allows protests. Uasu national office called off the strike we had announced. Whatever is going on is different,” Dr Wasonga said.
He added that universities have not been remitting workers’ deductions to medical insurance firms, saccos, the Kenya Revenue Authority, NHIF, NSSF, loans, pension and others.
Dr Wasonga said universities have not implemented the 2017-21 pay deal.