Chancellor College (Chanco) students have given University of Malawi (Unima) Council one week to resolve the salary dispute with the academic staff or face unspecified action.
The ultimatum follows a decision by academic staff at Chanco, a constituent college of Unima, to go on strike starting on Tuesday until their grievances are addressed.
The lecturers want Unima to resolve salary disparities among staff in similar grades in the university’s four constituent colleges, namely The Polytechnic, College of Medicine, Kamuzu College of Nursing and Chancellor College.
This follows revelations that some staff at the same level are receiving different salaries for the same kind of work being undertaken in the constituent colleges of Unima.
Addressing the media on Saturday, Students Union of Chancellor College (SUCC) president SyvesterAyuba James said failure to resolve the standoff will force them to take unspecified action to force authorities to open the college.
However, James could not disclose the kind of action they would take insisting “there are several actions to take.”
“We represent our constituents, we speak for them and we shall request them to take the council to task in whatever way it would be appropriate then,” said James in the company of his deputy, Esther Khao, student representative on Unima Council Fiskani Movete Nkhoma, and several other union leaders.
The students’ leader said the Chanco calendar had been sick since the period of academic freedom struggle some years ago and since then the college has not recovered from its illness.
“Besides affecting our academic performance, the university’s reputation has also been compromised both locally and internationally.
“The intermittent prolonged holidays as well as the closures are not doing us any good,” lamented James.
On his part, Nkhoma said they had given the council one week to use available solutions in resolving the matter which had raged on for some time.
“This issue has been there for some time and we believe all necessary options in the dispute have already been weighed so we expect them to resolve the issue within a week,” he said adding that the decision not to open classes today had caused agony and pain to students who arrived at the college last week for orientation.
Chanco Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) president Anthony Gunde described the issue as “apartheid” system and told The Nation they would not resume work unless the issue is settled.
Last year, it was established that there were pay disparities in Unima colleges with staff at CoM receiving 40 percent or sometimes 50 percent higher than their colleagues in similar grades in other colleges.