The deadlock between University of Malawi (Unima) Council and Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) over closure of the college is far from ending after the staff’s rejection of a proposal to refer the matter to Industrial Relations Court (IRC).
The council’s proposal to refer the matter to IRC was made to the lecturers through its lawyers on May 24, but Ccasu has shot down that suggestion.
The rejection of the proposal comes after the Council’s stand to reject Ccasu’s suggestion for a task force to help resolve the matter. Mbendera and Nkhono Associates , l awyers representing the Council, stated in the letter dated May 24 2017, addressed to lawyers representing the lecturers, The Law Office of Timothy John Chirwa, that the proposal to form the task force was unlikely to yield any fruitful outcome.
The council, through their lawyers, said they were convinced the task force would not bring any fruitful outcome considering the fact that the parties’ views seem to be so polarised.
The council’s lawyers wrote: “In our view, such an attempt will only waste more time since considerable discussion has already taken place, including a conciliation process with not much success.
“We hereby wish to hear from your clients on whether they are agreeable to having the dispute herein referred to the Industrial Relations Court pursuant to Section 45(1) (6) of the Labour Relations Act for determination.”
But Ccasu president Anthony Gunde said in a response to a questionnaire on Wednesday their lawyers responded to the council lawyers, but they have refused to have the matter referred to IRC.
Gunde said the refusal is on the basis that both parties had not even commenced dialogue on how they could look into the Modecai Msisha report.
The Ccasu president said they have not heard from the Council after their refusal to have the matter referred to court, but he conceded this is a deadlock because the Unima management does not seem moved.
Unima registrar Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga declined to comment on the issue on Wednesday, arguing the matter was in court. The salary harmonisation battle among four public universities under Unima resurfaced in March this year when Chanco was joined by the rest of the colleges, namely The Polytechnic, Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) and College of Medicine (CoM) to force Unima Council to resolve the salary disparities among staff in similar grades.
Some CoM academic staff members have been getting about 40 percent more than their counterparts in other Unima constituent colleges since 1991 when CoM was established.
The Msisha report dated February 22 2017 has five recommendations, including that the university should declare its commitment to the single salary structure for all academic staff.
But Ccasu is on record to have said that it is not against some lecturers getting the extra 40 percent, but rather, they are advocating equal pay in the constituent colleges under Unima.