Lecturers will kick off their strike at midnight as the government has not tabled an offer to counter their 2017-21 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The Universities Academic Staff Union accuses the Inter-public Universities Council Consultative Forum of failing to table the offer on five consecutive occasions since May last year.
According to Secretary-General Constantine Wasonga, IPUCCF reneged on its promises to table the offer on May 31 and July 1, 2017, and on January 31, February 13 and February 21 this year.
“Uasu deeply empathises with students and parents who have to contend with the devastating effects of a preventable strike,” Wasonga told journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday.
The strike’s seven-day notice was issued on February 21.
The industrial action will disrupt the learning of nearly 600,000 students across 31 public universities.
Last year, persistent and prolonged lecturers’ strikes led to the closure of several universities. The dons went on strike three times to push for the signing and implementation of the 2013-17 CBA.
The longest lasted 54 days – between January and March – and led to the signing of the CBA on March 13.
Wasonga said universities’ councils and the government have violated the return-to-work formula that saw them agree to negotiate and implement the 2017-21 CBA by July 1, 2017.
He regretted that the strike is yet again putting university education in peril as the government and university councils seemingly care less.
“I want to tell Uasu officials wherever they are, that during the strike they should not engage or meet any councils (and) university managements until further notice. The lecturers in Kenya are now under the management of Uasu,” Wasonga said.
The strike will be escalated on Friday when the lecturers’ counterparts, affiliated to the Kenya University Staff Union, will also down their tools over the same grievances.
Kusu Secretary General Charles Mukhwaya issued the strike notice on February 23.
“All Kusu members in public universities and their constituent colleges will have no otherwise but withdraw massively their labour and will not resume duty until the said CBA shall have been successfully negotiated, concluded and implemented.”
Mukhwaya said universities’ staff will remain “beggars” if the agreement is not signed in good time.
CBAs normally run for a cycle of four years and new ones are supposed to be negotiated immediately after the expiry of preceding deals.