University Management and KUSU representatives

After the recent University management consultative meeting with the leadership of the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU), it was the turn of representatives of the Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) to meet with Management on Thursday, 20th July 2023. This is in pursuit of creating a harmonious working environment which the Ag. Vice Chancellor, Prof. Linus Gitonga, has been emphasizing about. Not only has he emphasized on the need of talking to each other rather than at each other but also that in having such a talk, different parties are able to solve issues to the satisfaction of everyone. He noted that even though it may not be possible to achieve 100% satisfaction, it would count as progress to have a majority of them satisfied as improvement measures are sought.

“Even though we may not be able to reach out to all staff in the University, it is through their elected representatives that their issues are heard. We recognize that the role Unions play is key and central to the University,” said the Ag. VC noting that he looks forward to building a culture where everyone is respected, honored and valued. Such a culture would, subsequently, make KarU a place where people would desire to work in because of the utmost respect and regard accorded to one another. “In bringing cohesion, togetherness and harmony right from the Council, University Management Board and other levels, we can build an institution that we are proud of and a working environment that is positive.”

The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic, Research and Student Affairs, Prof. Hellen Kamiri, noted that Unions are an important constituent of the University. She posited that it was important for each staff to contribute to the bigger vision of the institution, to know and feel that the University is growing and that it has a future. Therefore, each member is expected to continue building the institution to make it better. She appreciated the fact that staff members have started recognizing where the University is heading to and the direction being set by the Acting Vice Chancellor.

The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Planning, Finance and Administration), Prof. Richard Kiai, said that engaging in dialogue has a major implication in the success of the University. The success of any organization is also dependent on how its human resource is handled and taken care of. Despite the diversity in the institution, it was important to learn to work as a team by taking advantage of the different views we have. He also stated that as the needs of staff are looked into, it was vital that those of students are given priority as well since they are the main product that the University is producing. On conflict management, harnessing divergent views while effectively handling conflicts makes staff and the institution to grow. He encouraged the KUSU leaders to lead by example in all spheres.

The KUSU leadership was represented by the Branch Chairperson, Mr. Patrick Nguring’a, Branch Secretary, Mr. John Njaguara and Branch Treasurer, Ms. Jackline Kagu. The Chairperson appreciated the Ag. VC and his team for recognizing all the Unions in the University. Specifically, he was grateful for the inclusion of Union officials in the Budget Committee. The Branch Secretary, Mr. John Njaguara presented a number of issues on behalf of the members.

Collective Bargaining Agreement

According to the Branch Secretary, the status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is what makes a Union. However, a CBA may not be delivered to members if the Unions do not talk to the employer. He noted that there was a previous agreement to put the negotiations on hold but that it was time to pick up the process again. KUSU, he said, is open to start the negotiations depending on the extent the University management can go while in their acting capacities. The Union is also open to discuss any circular on the matter from different government agencies but especially the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC). The Ag. VC challenged them to think of how the previous stalled CBAs should be handled since it would be impossible to start from 2013 due to among others, financial constraints. He, nevertheless, urged them to prepare themselves for negotiations that are likely to start once substantive appointments of top management are made.


On promotions, it was noted that there was need to follow the right procedure as stipulated in the Scheme of Service. The request presented by the officials was for the process of promotions to be made public. Ideally, an internal advertisement should be sent out indicating the available vacancies. In cases where internal staff are not qualified to take up a position, the same can be advertised externally. In essence, clear information should be provided during the process of conducting any promotions. While the promotions should be conducted in line with the Scheme of Service, the Union representatives noted that there was need to review the Scheme putting into consideration that the Unions need to own the document as well. The Scheme, according to the Ag. VC, will be reviewed and implemented as objectively as possible. He, however, asked the officials to await the appointment of substantive top managers before the process can start.

Marriage Affidavits

The Branch Secretary foregrounded the need for the University to honor marriage affidavits the same way a marriage certificate is recognized. KUSU members and their dependents should not be denied services due to lack of a marriage certificate. They noted that even though the law had been put in place guiding on the issue, the same cannot be applied retrogressively to members who had already joined the University. The Ag. VC stated that he would consult the Legal Officer on the matter in order to get the correct position.

Medical Scheme

The Union officials requested for the process of getting new medical scheme service providers that has already been floated be made public to members. This would help in creating awareness and will also be an opportunity for members to give their input. This was agreed on by both parties citing that sensitizing members is important so that they are made aware of the process and the progress made.


Daily Subsistence Allowance

The issue of per diems brought to the fore the last reviewed rates which do not, presently, serve members well. The University management was implored to review and align the allowances according to the provisions of SRC circular on applicable rates. This was especially emphasized on the half and quarter per diems which are not appropriately applied. The Ag. VC mentioned that half per diems are only applicable to Vice Chancellors and Deputy Vice Chancellors. However, the same can be explored further with an aim of having such included in the Terms of Service of other cadres of staff. This will also be guided by proper interpretation of SRC circulars that touch on zones and their appropriate per diem allocations.

Appreciation of staff during special events

The Union leaders noted that during special occasions such as registration of new students or conferences hosted by the University, staff from specific sections are sometimes required to keep early mornings and late evenings due to the increased workload. However, such staff are neither appreciated not rewarded. They requested for a review of the appreciation method-apart from offering meals which are also hard to partake of in the melee of activities- in order to make the staff feel recognized for their dedication. The Ag. VC said that being sensitive and considerate to staff who are involved during such times is important. Any budgetary allocations for such occasions will be reviewed to ensure that every one is appreciated accordingly. 

Mental health matters

Discourse on mental health issues have gained traction in the country since more and more people are being affected by it. The situation is no different at Karatina University. To remedy this, the KUSU officials proposed the identification of a mental health facility in Nyeri County where staff can access services. This is in addition to the University providing knowledge and creating awareness on mental health matters. The Ag. VC noted the importance of having such a programme in place. However, due to budgetary constraints and a lack of such a facility in Nyeri County, a staff trained in psychiatry will be identified to help staff navigate the terrain of mental health. In addition, Heads of Departments and Sections will be trained on how to identify and deal with such cases.  The issue will be handled as an evolving one where more avenues to help staff will be explored.

The next series of meetings will entail the University management having a luncheon with the academic and non-academic staff. The intention is to make each staff member know that they matter whether they hold an administrative or academic office or not.