A man shouts slogans during a strike by staff members from public universities in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Jan. 19, 2017. Learning in Kenyan public universities was on Thursday paralyzed as faculty members and subordinate workers went on strike citing the government's failure to honor a pay increase deal signed in 2013. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
A man shouts slogans during a strike by staff members from public universities in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Jan. 19, 2017. Learning in Kenyan public universities was on Thursday paralyzed as faculty members and subordinate workers went on strike citing the government's failure to honor a pay increase deal signed in 2013. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

Learning in Kenyan public universities was on Thursday paralyzed as faculty members and subordinate workers went on strike citing the government’s failure to honor a pay increase deal signed in 2013.

A man shouts slogans during a strike by staff members from public universities in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Jan. 19, 2017. Learning in Kenyan public universities was on Thursday paralyzed as faculty members and subordinate workers went on strike citing the government's failure to honor a pay increase deal signed in 2013. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)
A man shouts slogans during a strike by staff members from public universities in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Jan. 19, 2017. Learning in Kenyan public universities was on Thursday paralyzed as faculty members and subordinate workers went on strike citing the government’s failure to honor a pay increase deal signed in 2013. (Xinhua/Pan Siwei)

Unions representing university teaching and non-teaching staff announced the strike after expiry of a one week ultimatum they had earlier issued to the government.

Senior officials from University Academic Staff Union (UASU) and Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) said the strike will continue until the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed with the government is implemented in full.

The 2013-2017 CBA signed with the state calls for better remuneration and working conditions for all workers in public universities.

Union officials told journalists in Nairobi that the government must increase the salaries and allowances for university staff by 50 percent in order for them to call off the strike.

Early this week, a judge at the labour relations court declared the strike by university lecturers illegal and ruled for an extension of the negotiation period for their new terms of service.

Judge Hellen Wasilwa on Thursday again issued the directive in another case filed by the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum of Federation of Kenya Employers against KUSU.

The court, the judge said, would continue to dispense justice and do its work as required, and that parties in the case had agreed to put off the strike to allow for negotiations.

Despite the court ruling, the lecturers heeded their unions’ call for work boycott hence paralyzing activities in the institutions of higher learning.

The lecturers said they would “rather die than go to back to work” without a deal “as dead people do not need to pay taxes”.

“I have not seen that court order. It seems they are issuing court orders in a biased manner,” KUSU Organizing Secretary Johnston Akanga said on Thursday.

The least paid lecturer in public universities will earn 3,600 U.S. dollars while the highest paid will earn more than 10,000 dollars if the pay hike deal is implemented in full.

At present, a professor in any public Kenyan university earns a monthly salary of 2,070 dollars while lecturers an average of 1,500 dollars following a review of their perks by their employer in March 2014 after a week-long strike.

The university strike officially started at least nine universities where teaching and non-teaching staff also abandoned their work stations.

The university dons have been engaged with intermittent negotiations for pay rise with the government for the last two years.

In July last year, their unions gave the government a two-month ultimatum to implement the salary hike deal in full or face the consequences of industrial action.

The newly elected Secretary General of the UASU Wasonga Opiyo warned the state against backtracking in its pledge to implement the 2013-2017 salary increase deal.

As the industrial strike engulfed Kenya’s institutions of higher learning on Thursday, pundits warned against grave social and economic consequences in the country.

Steve Ndegwa, a Nairobi-based commentator on social issues said a paralysis in Kenya’s education sector occasioned by the university lecturers’ strike bode ill for the country’s economic progress and image.

“The last thing we expected was an industrial strike by university lecturers which could have grave implications on our country’s economy and stability,” Ndegwa said.

He reiterated that dialogue rather than brinkmanship is key to ending the latest strike by university lecturers. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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