University of Malawi (Unima) academic staff say they feel duped by the Unima Council on the 10 percent salary increment offered by government in the 2017/18 financial year for all public servants.
The academic staff’s position follows Unima Council’s resolution to exclude the academic staff in recent salary increments the council effected only for non-academic workers.
The council argued that it could not further adjust academic staff salaries because the 10 percent was factored into the 40 percent salary disparity they got which was created by the integration of clinical allowance for clinical doctors into salaries when the clean wage was introduced in 2006.
But in a letter to Unima Council chairperson James Maida dated August 8 2017 and signed by representatives of staff bodies, the disgruntled employees fear the action is a deliberate creation of another situation where Unima workers are treated discriminatorily.
Signatories of the letter, which The Nation has seen, include Associate Professor Edward Senga, chairperson of College of Medicine (CoM) Welfare Committee; Dr. Anthony Gunde, president of Chancellor College Academic Staff Union (Ccasu); Abel Mwanyungwe, president of the Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee on Welfare (Pascow) and M. Majamanda, chairperson of Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) Committee on Welfare.
Reads the letter in part: “Our understanding is that the percentage was to apply to all workers in the university without segregation. We question the legality of council’s using that percentage as part of clearing the disparity.”
The academic staff argue that using the 10 percent as part of clearing the 40 percent disparity meant that the council owes them a 10 percent increment given by government.
“This also means that our colleagues at CoM [College of Medicine] for whom the 40 percent adjustment does not apply are denied an increment that they have legitimate claim to because this was provided for by government to apply across the board.
“In the event that the 10 percent was given to CoM staff, it means that the rest of the academic members of staff need a further 10% if the disparity is going to be cleared in earnest,” argue the workers in the letter.
They further argue that “such illogical solutions” were the ones that led to the 40 disparity issue and it was clear and unfortunate that the council “seems to learn no lesson from this and goes on to effect solutions that will only lead us into another dispute.”
Reads the letter: “Academic members of staff are baffled even more that the council is not concerned at all about the illegality of its decision to give a salary increment to one part of its workforce while ignoring the other. The best council could do is to concede that it erred and let us negotiate on how this error is going to be rectified, before it is too late.”
The displeased workers also remind the council that the 40 percent salary dispute took longer to resolve because council and management took “forever to admit that they made an error”.
But in his written response to The Nation inquiry on the issue, Maida said the demand by academic staff violated an agreement the parties had during their meeting that since they received a 40 percent salary adjustment as a result of the disparity, any other increment would only apply to non-academic staff.
He said: “The 40 percent salary increment given to the academics as per the Ku Chawe agreement has already caused a shortfall of about K4.5 billion for operations, and paying 10 percent or 25 percent to the academic staff just because the salaries of the non-academic staff have been increased would have effectively meant closing the university.”
However, Maida indicated the issue was one of those on the agenda the council will consider at its ordinary meeting next month and he hoped the academics would see the need to resolve the matter “amicably and in the best national interest”.
Recently, Unima clashed with academic staff from constituent colleges who demanded addressing of a disparity in packages and demanded equal pay for people with equal qualifications and positions in the institution. The bone of contention was a 40 percent allowance given to some CoM academic staff. n