By Brighton Makori .
Kisii 7 October 2020…………. Two workers unions in Kisii County have petitioned Kisii university management to reconsider its decision to retrench over 500 workers failure to which they will seek court redress.
Kenya Union of Domestic, Hotels, Education Institutions Hospitals and Allied Workers (KUDHEIHA) and Kisii University Staff Union (KUSU decried the abrupt move by the university to lay of especially the non teaching staff alleging it was done unprocedural and unlawfully.
speaking to the the press separately in Kisii town the officials and members of the unions said they will fight off for their 263 KUDHEIHA and 204 KUSU members among others.
The KUDHEIHA union Chief Industrial Relations Officer Hezron Onuong’a described the services that were considered redundant, grades 1-4 of its members as essential and basic before teaching and other cadres.
Onuong’a castigated the university for violating some sections of the CBA that demanded workers be given a two months notice before they are laid off.
“We are demanding the university management call a meeting before Thursday this week or we move to the Employment and Labor court to seek redress,” said Onuong’a.
The Union’s Secretary General for Kisii branch Mr. Thomas Ireri decried the laying off of 226 members allegedly without a bargaining agreement saying majority were breadwinners for their families including orphans and widows who are already developing mental illnesses.
One worker Phillis Ondieki who has worked for 10 years at the university lamented over lack of payment during the Covid 19 pandemic which has now been summed up with a retrenchment letter.
Ondieki explained that the pandemic had rendered many husbands to her colleagues’ jobless, a matter that has now been compounded with their current state leaving parents and children staring at a blink future.
Dancan Nyangena explained how he received an SMS informing him to pick his letter from the university which turned out to be for contract termination.
Nyangena appealed to the management to consider paying gratuity to those entitled to it as per their contract.
Joseph Odira who is also the Chairperson of the University Workers committee wondered why the usual procedures including ‘last in first out’ clause was not followed in the retrenchment exercise and demanded that those who had worked for many years be paid their dues.
KUSU Chairperson accused the university of failing to consult the members and appealed to the management to suspend the exercise until all parties had met and sought an amicable solution.
He appealed to the ministry of Education to avail more funding to the institution so that the workers can be retained for purposes of quality services.
The varsity’s Vice Chancellor, John Akama, said the institution had no choice but to retrench the workers after their revenues shrunk due to a reduction in the number of students enrolling for parallel programmers.
According to the Vice Chancellor Prof. John Akama, the institution has been handicapped in running its mandated activities by the reduction of revenue 70% after the privately sponsored programme was stopped.
Prof. Akama argued that the capitation funds from the national government are not able to run the institution activities including paying staff, pensions, Sacco statutory deductions, suppliers and taxes as it caters for only 40 % while the funds from private students who had currently reduced by 70 percent catered for 60%.
VC Akama explained it was due to such reasons that the University board had to look for ways of restructuring activities in the institution like invocation of staff redundancy, and collapsing teaching departments to reduce the number, hence reducing the cost.
Those rendered redundant include Drivers, Clerks, and Support staff, Electricians, Carpenters and Masons among others.
The VC denied that the university funds were mismanaged saying previous EACC report had proven otherwise adding that the picture on the ground had proven it was not possible to raise sh.45m every month to run the institution.
“The government Cake is simply not enough for every one and no CEO of an organization will want the institution to go down the drain when he can do something to salvage the it,” he said.
He said the restructuring was done in a way not to compromise the university mandate which is to teach, research, publish and innovate.
He said the retained staff members met the threshold of 70% teaching staff and 30% non teaching staff, giving room for hire of services only when it is necessary, whereas previously the teaching staff totaled 320 and non teachings more than double the figure.