The High Court in Zomba is set to rule on whether the University of Malawi (Unima) has the mandate to declare a strike staged by its employees as illegal.
This follows an application by support staff in Unima constituent colleges for a judicial review after management deducted their December salaries by almost half for reportedly staging an illegal strike.
Chairperson of Unima Wide Workers Trade Union, Franklin Kapeni, said in an interview yesterday they took their employer to court after roundtable negotiations to have their salaries paid in full yielded nothing.
He said as far as they were concerned, the strike was legitimate because they followed procedures which included writing management as well as Ministry of Labour and Manpower Development about their intention.
Said Kapeni: “We requested for a judicial review for the court to enlighten us whether University of Malawi is the proper body to declare a strike illegal. All the ground work was done and the court is expected to make judgement anytime.”
Presiding High Court judge Redson Kapindu adjourned the case two weeks ago to prepare judgement.
The support staff are being represented in the matter by Veritas Chambers, a private law firm.
The affected employees were from three of Unima’s four constituent colleges, namely Chancellor College, the Polytechnic and Kamuzu College of Nursing as those at College of Medicine got their full package despite being part of the striking staff.
Unima management accused support staff of staging an illegal strike which resulted in deducting their December salaries for the two weeks they were on sit-in.
The disgruntled employees staged an industrial action, which resulted in premature closure of the university, to force Unima management to raise their salaries by 45 percent as was the case with the mainstream civil servants.
But government eventually offered them 36 percent increment, which, according to Kapeni, the workers were satisfied with.