Members of staff at the Taita Taveta University have vowed to disrupt the ongoing end of semester exams should the institution fail to accede to their demands of paying them their new salaries as par the Collective Bargaining Agreement CBA of 2019.
Led by Kenya University Staff Union, their branch, the enraged staff claimed that the money that they were supposed to be paid as par the 2017-2021 CBA has never been released despite signing the agreement.
“It is for this reason that members of staff in Taita Taveta University have vowed that they will not sit and watch their employer torment them. So we must be paid what is rightfully ours,” KUSU Taita Taveta University Secretary Joel Wanina said
The Union further accused the leadership of the University of playing deaf and blind to their demands and vowed to “teach them a lesson.”
“The greatest problem is that we have a very incompetent leadership in this University. Whenever we try to seek an audience with our leadership, they exit through the back door. Like right now they have just exited through the back door,” Wanina said.
Addressing the press at the University, the union officials vowed to continue picketing until they are paid all their dues unconditionally.
“We shall continue like this until the management agrees to a discourse to settle this crisis. The only way to settle this is by paying our dues. Without money, then the entire public should understand that the students will be here but they will not take their end of semester exams or any classes until the time when our money will be released,” Wanina said.
The officials said the management has shown know willingness to resolve the crisis but they have instead resorted to intimidations against the union officials.
“Why is it that other Universities have paid their staff new salaries plus CBA and that cannot apply in TTU,” the officials who said they will not bow down to any form of intimidation posed.
The institution’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Fred Barasa, said that Taita Taveta University like many other Universities in the country, does not have sufficient funds to implement the CBA the way the Unions demand.
“The truth is that none of the universities in the country has received money from the government to be able to pay salary scales in the format they are asking,” Barasa said adding the lecturers will be allowed to picket but not infringe on the rights of students by denying them an opportunity to proceed with their exams.
In the CBA signed in 2019, Ksh8.8 billion was supposed to be the full amount payable to all universities. In 2020 the government released Ksh6.6 billion of the Sh8.8 billion as the initial amount, which according to professor Barasa Taita Taveta University received Ksh42 million as their share.
“In this Ksh42 million the union and the management team sat and calculated the amount which every staff should be paid they agreed and signed. This financial year July 2021, the government has provided a portion of the remaining Ksh2.2 billion for implementation of the arrears and Taita Taveta University has been allocated Ksh12.7 million which is disbursed as part of capitation by monthly basis on equal installments. Meaning every month the university receives Ksh1 million over 12 months,” explained the Vice Chancellor.
He said there has been a dispute as to whether the Ksh12.7 million should be used to pay arrears or to implement the new salary scales going forward to sustain the CBA.
“They want to force us to agree that we can pay the new salary scales that they are demanding, which is not possible because tomorrow we will find ourselves only paying the net salaries. Meaning we are unable to remit the statutory deductions. We have received to enter that hole,” he said, adding that he is ready to meet the union officials.
However the KUSU officials said they are not prepared for anything besides new salaries.