The Cabinet Secretary for Education Dr Fred Matiang’i has requested university staff unions to consider suspending industrial action to give room for negotiations.
The CS who was meeting key stakeholders in higher education including the committee of the Chancellors, Chairs of Council, Representatives of Vice Chancellors and Ministry officials in Nairobi, also directed the public universities to suspend court cases to give room for discussions though the Joint Negotiations Committee.
Public universities had gone to court to seek restraining order with the Government, parents, students among other stakeholders calling for a speedy resolution to the current stalemate. “I have also asked the Council Chairpersons to unconditionally withdraw any disciplinary letter(s) issued to any member of the unions with immediate effect,” said Dr Matiang’i.
“I direct Inter Public University Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF), to continue with the negotiations and ensure a speedy resolution and an agreement on the 2013 to 2017 CBA, without fail, by February 28th, 2017.”
The CS said the Ministry of Education is aware and disturbed by the slow progress and pace towards agreeing to the CBA, adding that the delay is highly regrettable.
The meeting which was to review the progress on the negotiations and address any outstanding issues also explored the possibilities of giving the joint negotiations team the best environment bereft of tension, conflict and active industrial action.
Dr Mataing’i said they have every confidence to believe that they will all agree to negotiate in good faith. “The men and women who have been tirelessly working on this process have assured me that they remain committed to this process and that they will be doing all in the power, to ensure a CBA is in place by end of February,” he noted.
“I wish to thank the members of the public, my colleagues at the Ministry and all stakeholders for their continued support to the process. I have no doubt that they will burn the midnight oil to ensure that we deliver within the agreed timelines.”
The last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the Public Universities and the Unions lapsed in June 2013.
The CS however said the process leading to the signing of the CBA for July 2013 to June 2017, have regrettably been slow and incomplete – resulting in industrial action by unions and their respective members. This has disrupted learning and other essential services in public universities. (Andrew Makari)