Three weeks after a standoff between the Polytechnic academic staff and their employers, the University of Malawi (Unima) Council, classes resumed at the institution yesterday.
During spot checks at the Polytechnic campus in Blantyre yesterday, students were seen moving around with writing materials going to classes while some could be spotted in classrooms attending lectures.
Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) general secretary Chifundo Nkhata confirmed in an interview that classes had indeed resumed at the college.
“We were just told by the vice-principal [Nancy Chitera] that lecturers are resuming their teaching duties today [Monday] and indeed today we have had classes. Nothing more was communicated to us as regards the lecturers’ demands,” he said.
A statement from PSU dated April 8 2016 informed all students that lecturers were resuming their duties and students who vacated the campus were advised to return by Sunday.
The Polytechnic lecturers withdrew their teaching services from March 21 2016, a week after the college opened for second semester, because they did not get any communication or feedback from the council on their demands for a 30 percent salary adjustment.
The withdrawal was done after union and welfare committees at the Polytechnic gave the council an ultimatum to effect the increment by 5pm on March 21 2016.
However, Unima Council, in its statement, rebuffed the request saying effecting the raise would bloat the budget.
It said the proposed salary increment would raise the wage bill by about K6 billion, hence, suspending most operations of the university.
According to Unima Council, the institution has increased university staff salaries four times in the past four years as follows: 10 percent increment was effected in 2011/12; 30 percent in 2012/13; 45 percent in 2013/14 and 33.3 percent 2014/2015.
But contrary to council’s claim, lecturers contend that the last time Unima Council increased the staff salaries was in 2012, after a similar industrial action.
Efforts to speak with the Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee on Welfare (Pascow) chairperson Abel Mwanyungwe and the college’s management did not bear fruits yesterday. n