The Industrial Relations Court (IRC) is today set to hear the pay rise dispute between University of Malawi (Unima) support staff and the public university’s management.
University Workers Trade Union (Uwtu) general secretary James Khando said in an interview yesterday they would continue with the strike until their demand is met.
But when contacted, Unima Council spokesperson Alfred Banda refused to comment, saying the issue is now in the hands of the council’s lawyers.
The bone of contention is a 10 percent salary increment offer by government in July 2017 to all statutory corporations, including Unima, which the council only applied to academic and administrative staff only, according to Uwtu.
As the sit-in entered day three yesterday, services at the College of Medicine (CoM) mortuary stalled, with those bringing in dead bodies being sent back while those who wanted to collect bodies were forced to do so without assistance.
At Chancellor College (Chanco), students staged a strike to force authorities to resolve the matter which they said is affecting their studies.
The clerks and technicians at the university’s constituent colleges of Chanco, CoM, The Polytechnic and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) as well as university central office began the sit-in on Tuesday.
Students are feeling the pinch as they cannot access their libraries and other information communications technology (ICT) services.
While classes were continuing normally, some classrooms at Chanco remained locked and taps were dry as the support staff who keep keys and water prepaid cards refused to work.
In an interview, Students Union of Chancellor College (Succ) president Raphael Nedi said they contained the situation and have agreed with the college administration that the library should open by Friday (today).
He said: “We have managed to contain the situation and no property has been damaged. We will continue to engage the students and the college administration.”
Nedi highlighted that according to the university constitution, if the library is closed for a week, the college should be closed.
Concurring with him, both a representative of the University of Malawi Students Union (Umsu) representative Chester Phiri and Polytechnic Students Union (PSU) general secretary Neal Kambeta said the students hoped the two parties would resolve the matter as quickly as possible as it was in violation of their right to access to education.
In April this year, the support staff staged a sit-in which lasted a week, demanding that the council honour its pledge of a 12 percent salary increment from an agreed 25 percent, which management partly honoured after paying the other 13 percent.
The Unima Council obtained a court injunction restraining its support staff from proceeding with the sit-in that paralysed learning at Chanco and the Polytechnic.