University staff have a reason to celebrate after the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA) was signed on October 28, 2019 at Jacaranda Hotel, Nairobi.
The signing ceremony between Inter Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) of the Federation of Kenya Employers and the three staff Unions; Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU); Kenya Universities Staff Union(KUSU), and Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Educational Institutions and Hospital(KUDHEIHA) Workers, was a culmination of intense negotiations between the parties. “This was a historic CBA that was signed without an industrial strike and within its cycle,” said Prof. Isaac Mbeche, Chairman, IPUCCF Joint Negotiations Committee and Acting Vice-Chancellor, University of Nairobi.
Prof. Mbeche praised the team from International Labour Organization (ILO) which offered training to the team of negotiators inNakuru. He said that the training enabled the negotiators to hold peaceful negotiations without acrimony. He hailed the negotiations of the CBA which was signed without disruption of the academic programs in the universities.
UASU Secretary General, Dr. Constantine Wesonga, opined that as a Union, they were happy with the outcome of the negotiations. He observed that the negotiations have been long and done under three (3) successive Education Cabinet Secretaries. The negotiations started when Dr. Fred Matiang’i was the Cabinet Secretary for Education and continued on with Ambassador Amina Mohammed as the Cabinet Secretary and were concluded when Prof. George Magoha was at the helm of Education Ministry. “The CBA is to be registered in Court on November 20, 2019 as was agreed by the negotiating parties. The 2021-2025 CBA is to be commenced immediately,” he said. He urged Parliament to reconsider differentiated unit cost, (DUC) that was introduced some three years back, where students enrolled in STEM courses get more funding compared to students enrolled in social sciences. Previously, all students would get equal funding from the government. That has since changed.
KUSU Secretary General, Dr. Charles Mukhwaya, opined that the negotiations were peaceful, open and transparent. “Let’s make our internal CBAs to make our workers happy. It is workers that drive the universities, “he said. He observed that recognition agreement was to be signed as well. While speaking to University Vice Chancellors and Chair of Councils, Dr. Mukhwaya, urged University leadership to be accommodative and not hostile to the Unions. “Please involve stakeholders before making major decisions like closing campuses, staff retrenchment and merging academic programs”, he said.
Going forward the 2017 CBA will be registered in the Employment and Labour Relations Court and then Treasury will release the monies, which will be back dated to July, 2017.