Striking academic staff at the Polytechnic say they are not aware of any deadline or order given by the University of Malawi (Unima) Council that they should return to work by Wednesday, March 30.
The Unima Council, in a statement published at the weekend, pleaded with all concerned staff to return to work immediately and give dialogue a chance.
The council also instructed management at the Polytechnic, a constituent college of Unima, to note all staff who do not return to work by yesterday (Wednesday).
But yesterday, Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee on Welfare (Pascow) chairperson Abel Mwanyungwe said the staff have not received any communication about the order or deadline from their employer, the Unima Council.
He only mentioned that the academic staff had a meeting with the Unima pro-vice-chancellor Professor Alfred Mtenje on Tuesday where a proposal for arbitration was made.
Said Mwanyungwe: “Yesterday [Tuesday], the pro-vice-chancellor met with members of staff and a proposal to have an arbitrator was made. As members of staff, we are waiting for that process to begin.”
Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) president Frank Msiska, speaking in an interview yesterday, said the group’s leadership had a meeting with the college’s management in were briefed about the current status quo at the college.the morning where they
Msiska said the management informed them that the meeting between the fighting parties did not agree on one thing as such the lecturers strike will continue.
The Polytechnic lecturers withdrew their teaching services from Monday last week 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, 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 in 2014/15.
But contrary to council’s claim, an inside source who has read the statement has said the last time the council increased the staff salaries is in 2012, after a similar industrial strike. n