Public universities have started cracking the whip on striking lecturers and other staff as the industrial action enters its third month on Tuesday.
The University of Nairobi (UoN) has suspended 35 lecturers after they declined to return to work following Labour Court’s ruling that declared the strike illegal and unprotected last month.
Technical University of Kenya (TUK) on Friday started a head count of lecturers who are teaching, and has threatened to sack those who will not report to work.
At UoN, acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration Isaac Mbeche said the suspension is a warning to those who are still on strike.
“We are now dealing with individuals since they have different contracts with the university. If you do not come to work without permission, there are consequences,” Prof Mbeche warned.
He said the institution wrote to staff asking them to resume work, and that those who abided have not been punished.
“Some wrote back agreeing to resume work while others insisted they were still on strike,” Prof Mbeche said, adding that learning had resumed at the institution.
Last month, the university denied more than 1,200 staff their salaries for boycotting work.
At TUK, all staff are now required to sign commitment forms as the institution moves to ensure that operations are normalised.
“The directors of schools and heads of administrative units are hereby requested to ensure compliance with this directive by submitting completed commitment forms to the management,” a circular by Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration and Planning, Joseph Kiplangat, reads.
Staff at the university who are still on strike are set to start receiving their suspension letters today.
At Moi University, Vice-Chancellor Isaac Kosgey has warned that the striking staff will not get their salaries.
“Other disciplinary measures will be taken as the university council advises.
“Staff who are ready to resume work can do so by registering with the respective heads of departments on a daily basis with immediate effect,” Prof Kosgey said.
At Kenyatta University, lecturers are now required to sign forms indicating their willingness to teach, and which must be submitted to deputy VC in charge of administration and planning.
Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University has since adjusted its academic calendar for all students due to the strike.
Students in most universities have gone home as they wait for a solution to the crisis that has affected learning for the last one year.
The strike, which started on March 1, has paralysed learning in all 31 public universities. Lecturers are demanding Sh38 billion for the 2017-2021 CBA.
Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed last week set up a team to table a counter-offer.
“The impact of these perennial strikes has, to say the least, been disastrous.
“The image of our university education worldwide is taking a severe beating.
“Our students are taking more than double the period required to complete academic programmes and employers are losing faith in the capacity of our graduates,” Ms Mohamed said.
Ms Mohamed said with the enactment of the Constitution and the subsequent creation of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, all salaries in the public sector must now be based on advice from the commission.
However, Universities Academic Staff Union Secretary General Constantine Wasonga said lecturers will only call off their strike after receiving an offer.
“We are used to threats, and we will now be forced back to work,” Dr Wasonga said.