Barely one week after opening for the second semester of the ongoing academic year, lecturers at the Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), have withdrawn their teaching services.
The withdrawal follows demands of salary adjustment which the lecturers are pressing the Unima Council, their employer, to effect.
An e-mail from the Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee on Welfare (Pascow) to staff circulating on the social media and headlined Update and Way Forward on Salary demand, Pascow executive informed its members that at the time of posting the message it had not yet received any communication or feedback on the demands of salary adjustment.
“As a consequence, the Pascow resolution of withdrawing teaching services from Monday, 21st March 2016 still stands. We will update and communicate to the community any new developments. Pass on this message to all your neighbours,” reads the message.
However, in an interview on Monday, Pascow chairperson Abel Mwanyungwe denied that lecturers at the college have withdrawn teaching services. He said he himself had delivered lectures on Monday.
While refusing to indicate the staff’s demands, he said Pascow had received a response on its demands from the council and members would deliberate on the same today [Tuesday].
But Malawi News Agency quoted one lecturer who opted for anonymity, as having said that they will resume their duties once the Unima Council increases their salaries by 30 percent or any percentage not less than 15 percent.
Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) president Frank Msiska also confirmed that their lecturers had downed tools.
He said: “We are requesting all the relevant authorities and the public to help us resolve this matter because the strike will only delay our already delayed academic calendar which is unfair considering that out parents are struggling through economic hardships to see us through the college’s expensive welfare and we are being denied our right to education.”
A visit by The Nation to the Polytechnic main campus and another one by Mana to the Polytechnic’s Chichiri Campus on Monday found most students hanging around the corridors with no lectures being delivered.
In January last year, the Polytechnic’s opening for second semester was also postponed after lecturers refused a 36 percent offer on condition that arrears be guaranteed.
The lecturers, together with their counterparts at Chancellor College (Chanco), made headlines in 2012 when they demanded a 113 percent salary increment. Government offered them a 25 percent increase which only Chanco lecturers accepted. It took the Polytechnic lecturers about six weeks of striking to finally accept the 25 percent after negotiations were completed. n