- KUSU TUM Chapter secretary John Ogwang said most employees are against the punitive housing levy and thus should be withdrawn from the Finance Bill 2023.
- Ogwang said the government should instead fast-track the CBA negotiations
Technical University of Mombasa staff on Tuesday rejected the three per cent housing levy saying it will be punitive to the already choked pay slips of a dejected workforce.
The staff—both academic and non-academic—said they are already being oppressed by the government due to poor pay and cannot meet even basic needs such as medical costs and food.
“If you want to milk a cow, you have to feed it first and make it fat. But this cow is already thin and you want to milk it? You will get blood instead of milk,” said Kassim Ziro, the Kenya Universities Staff Union TUM Chapter chairperson.
They spoke outside the university premises.
He said the pay slips are already overburdened by loans and taking away a further three per cent will lead to defaults on loans and the banks will penalise the workers.
KUSU TUM Chapter secretary John Ogwang said most employees are against the punitive housing levy and thus should be withdrawn from the Finance Bill 2023.
“Our patriotic representatives in the National Assembly and Senate should reject the component on housing levy in total,” Ogwang said.
Instead of pushing the unpopular Finance Bill 2023 down the throats of workers, Ogwang said the government should fast-track the CBA negotiations, and implement the pending 2017-2021 CBA that would better the lives of university academic and non-academic staff.
He said it is strange that only the government knows the architecture of the proposed houses to be built ostensibly for the poor.
“Who will build these houses? How will the houses be allocated? How will they be spread across the country? Of what taste will they be? Will they be round, square, pyramid, rectangular depending on the cultures of the various communities in the country?” posed Ogwang.
He said the acquisition of the houses is not feasible and that the greatest contributor will need to contribute about Sh5,000 per month for 40 years in order to acquire a basic unit that costs about Sh2.4 million.
On the universities funding model proposed by the Kenya Kwanza government, Prof Ochieng Odalo, the Universities Academic Staff Union TUM Chapter secretary, said the enrolment approach or the student funding model is a clever way of reintroducing the unsuccessful merger of public universities through a forced collapse of higher institutions of learning.
He said the major funding models which have been tested and registered tremendous success across the globe are performance-based funding and include output-based funding, performance-set-aside funding and performance contracts.
“The proposed model in its current form is discriminative, punitive and doesn’t reward hard work by the students who make it to pursue university education,” Prof Odalo said.
He said the proposed funding model portends a scenario of low enrolment, high dropout rates and deplorable living conditions of students due to non-funding of their upkeep.
He noted that already, public universities have pronounced higher fees which are not harmonised ranging from Sh114,000 to Sh720,000.
“The model should be put on hold and productive public participation involving university students, employees and management be constituted,” Odalo said.
He said universities have to be assured of base funding, have the fees harmonised and students’ upkeep support guaranteed.
“We can’t have our top brains going to universities pursuing engineering, medicine, and architecture, living in slums,” Odalo said.
The government’s proposed funding models categories students into four main groups including the vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy and these would be funding through government scholarships at 82 per cent, 70 per cent, 53 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.
The Higher Education Loans Board will also give loans to the students based on the categories which would include 18 per cent, 30 per cent, 40 per cent and 55 per cent respectively.
Prof Odalo said vice chancellors have been coerced into accepting the funding model.
“It is now that the VCs are struggling to come up with fee structures. That means they are not part of the process,” Odalo said.
-Edited by SKanyara