A workers union has been allowed to file a contempt suit against two Vice Chancellors (VCs) for allegedly slashing salaries of 877 lecturers.
The Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) is accusing Egerton and Kisii university VCs of sanctioning a 40 per cent pay cut on the dons’ salaries.
Justice Byram Ongaya certified the matter as urgent and directed that it be heard on July 8.
UASU, through lawyer Titus Koceyo is urging the court to commit to civil jail, Kisii university VC John Akama and Egerton’s Rose Mwonya, for disobeying orders he issued on May 21, 2020.
Mr Koceyo said the two VCs knew about the court orders but ignored and should be committed to to civil for a period not exceeding six months or be ordered to pay a fine of Sh200,000 each.
The judge heard that Prof Mwonya implemented the 40 per cent pay cut to its 581 lecturers while Prof Akama did not pay any salary to the 296 lecturers.
“The two VCs were represented in court on May 27, 2020 when the conservatory orders staying the implementation of the 40 per cent pay cut was extended,” Mr Koceyo told the judge.
The judge heard the two VCs did not “appeal against the court order staying the pay cuts and in the absence of the same, court orders must be complied with.
“The orders made, if not complied with, will erode the dignity and authority of the court,” Mr Koceyo argued.
He stated that continued withholding of the claimants salaries is causing them “economic duress, anguish as they are unable to meet their daily needs.”
Uasu wants the two VCs to personally attend court on July 8 during the hearing of the suit.
Prof Mwonya sent a circular dated May 13, 2020 to all staff members about the pay cut.
Prof Mwonya stated: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected the entire country, the university is not able to generate enough funds internally, to be able to pay salaries for the month of April 2020.”
In the circular, she said the funds’ shortage might stay for a while, during the pandemic period.
She stated the varsity’s management board resolved the available funds be paid as follows:-Staff in Grade 5-19 will receive 60 per cent as indicated in their pay slips. But staff in grade 1-4 will receive 100 per cent salaries.
On May 11 2020, Prof Akama sent a circular to all staff saying the institution was not in a position to pay full salary for April 2020.
Prof Akama stated the institution received Sh90,706 ,363 while the total payroll amounts to Sh147,331,149.02 occasioning a deficit of Sh56,624,786.02 to pay full salaries.