Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) – Prior to 1972, most lecturers at the University of Nairobi Were members of the University Staff Association, which was provided for by the University of Nairobi Act (1970).But some dons had rejected to be members of this body, which they regarded as part of the Government machinery to curb academic freedom.
Universities Academic Staff Union
Formation of UASU
So, in 1972, the University Academic Staff Union was formed and duly registered by the Government to cater for faculty members at the University of Nairobi and the Kenyatta University College.
Unlike the University Staff Association, which was basically a welfare organisation for staff members, UASU was founded with a larger mandate of improving terms of service, as well as to promote relations between its members and the university council and students.
But in 1978, differences began to emerge between the Government and Universities Academic Staff Union, especially when the union demanded reinstatement of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o to his former professorial position at the University of Nairobi after his release from detention. In addition UASU castigated the university and government on how they handled student demonstrations against apartheid regime of South Africa and murder of Dr Waiter Rodney in Guyana. The Union also started demanding higher wages for its members.
In 1980, the Government disbanded Universities Academic Staff Union and accused lecturers and professors of being involved in politics, which was not core to their employment. However, in 1992, the lecturers decided to revive the union and have it registered as the Universities Academic Staff Union in order to cover all the public universities in the country.
In 1993, lecturers from the four public universities went on strike in protest against the Government’s decision not to register the proposed union. But the lecturers were unawareas to the resolve of the Governmentnot to submit to calls to register UASU.
In its attempt to justify its decision not to register UASU, the Government relied exclusively on pro-establishment academics until 1994 when the strike was called off. Key officials of the unregistered UASU were sacked from the universities. They included Dr Korwa Adar, Dr Kilemi Mwiria, Dr Omari Onyango, Charles Namachanja, Airo Akodhe, Eric Makokha, Churchill Kibisu, Nyaduwa Odhiambo and Peter Kagwanja.
UASU was finally registered in 2003, after the KANU government lost the 2002 General Election. Each public university has a chapter of UASU which has a committee headed by a chairperson. In addition to the lecturers, senior administrative, technical, library, catering and finance staff can elect to be members of the Universities Academic Staff Union. Currently, UASU has about 10, 000 members, most of them academic staff.