Members of Mzuzu University Academic Staff Union (Muasu) and Mzuni Non-academic Staff Trade Union (Munastu) yesterday resolved to go on strike effective today.
The decision follows a ruling by the Industrial Relations Court (IRC) that they can proceed with their industrial action.
Muasu and Munastu members’ salaries have not been increased in two years, and they are demanding a 35 percent increment. They first wrote the university’s authorities on August 2 2016 stating that they would go on a sit-in on August 23 2016 if management failed to raise their salaries.
On August 5, the university’s administration responded with a recommendation that both parties follow the law and work together to appoint a broker in line with Section 44 (2) of the Labour Relations Act.
However, the reconciliatory efforts collapsed, forcing the unions to issue a fresh notice on October 6, that they would withdraw labour on October 14.
Mzuni management responded by referring the dispute to the IRC for guidance, arguing that the action by the unions of giving notice to withdraw labour was not compliant with Section 46 as read with Section 44 of the Labour Relations Act (1996).
But Muasu and Munastu, through lawyer Christon Ghambi, asked the court to consider the respondents’ members’ salaries, which have not been adjusted for two years.
On Thursday, deputy chairperson of the IRC in Mzuzu, Austin Msowoya, ruled that the two staff unions are at liberty to proceed with their withdrawal of labour.
Munastu president Gruno Muyola said they will only resume work if the university meets their demand.
In a statement following the ruling, Mzuni Council warned that the students’ education, health and security will be affected should the staff proceed to withdraw labour.
The Council further stated that budgetary limitations in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 financial years have not allowed for salary increases, resulting into a series of difficult negotiations with Staff Unions over salaries.
Meanwhile, Mzuni Students Union president Wazamazama Katatu has remained optimistic that management will resolve the matter soon to avoid disturbing their calendar.