Kenyan universities petition court to declare lecturers strike illegal
12 March 2018
While academic activity at public universities across Kenya remains completely shut down and lecturers are vowing to remain on strike into a second week, universities, in collusion with the government, are seeking to suppress the strike.
On Tuesday, the universities filed a petition in court asking it to declare the strike illegal and order the lecturers back to work. The court stated it will issue its ruling by Friday.
The strike was organized and launched on March 1 by the Universities’ Academic Staff Union (UASU) and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU). At the heart of the walkout are lecturers’ low salaries and overall deteriorating conditions of the Kenyan public university system, after a multi-decade campaign conducted by the government to gut public spending allocated for education, which has had dire consequences for both academic staff and students alike.
With an air of desperation amid a total stoppage of public-run universities across Kenya, the Inter-Public Universities Councils Consultative Forum (IPUCCF) petitioned the Employment and Labour Relations Court to declare the strike illegal and order the lecturers’ immediate return to work.
In its argument before the court on Friday, the UASU accused the universities of proposing a return to work formula without bringing a counter-proposal to meet lecturers’ demands, namely salary increases and increased benefits for academic staff, and renovation and upkeep of the deteriorating university system, with steps taken toward a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the one that expired in 2017.
Titus Koceyo, a lawyer for the UASU, told the court, “I would like to…