University of Malawi (Unima) Council on Friday obtained an injunction, restraining Unima support staff from proceeding with a sit-in that has paralysed learning at Chancellor College (Chanco) and the Polytechnic.
Students from the two Unima constituent colleges have been failing to access the library, laboratories and other key facilities operated by the clerical, technical and support staff, a development that has led the students, as is the case with Chanco, to use classes and the gym at night for their studies.
The support staff has been staging the sit-in from last Tuesday, demanding that the Council honours its pledge of a 12 percent salary increment from an agreed 25 percent, which management has partly honoured after paying the other 13 percent.
But the injunction that was granted by High Court judge Redson Kapindu, sitting in Zomba, which now acts as a relief to the students and Unima management, has given the University Workers Trade Union (UWTU) and the Council, next Friday for inter-partes applications to be heard in the Judge’s chambers.
Reads in part the injunction: “That an injunction be and is hereby respondent (UWTU) and its membership from proceeding with their strike, sit-in, or any form of industrial action pending the hearing of and determination of an inter-partes application for continuation of the Order of Injunction pending hearing and determination of the matter.”granted restraining the
But when contacted yesterday morning, UWTU president Mike Namandwa, said the support staff will resume their duties while its leadership will be preparing their defence.
“We are in the process of challenging the injunction. However, all the protesting staff will resume their work in compliance to the law,” said Namandwa, adding that they will not shun the inter-partes hearing.
But last Wednesday, Unima registrar Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga, in a statement, challenged the support staff on their stand in staging the sit-in, saying it is a breach of an agreement between the two parties.
He said both parties agreed to have a staggered implementation of the 25 percent salary adjustment starting with 13 percent immediately and the remaining 12 percent to be decided in January this year during a mid-year review meeting.
Besides, according to Malunga, the two parties also agreed that the review meeting between the two parties shall agree the percentage to be offered— whether to pay the whole 12 percent or to stagger it to deter the implementation to 1st July 2018 based on the available financial resources realised from all sources.
Malunga blamed the support staff leadership for proceeding on strike.
“For the UWTU leaders to let their constituents be on strike before July 1 2018 when the agreed third option was to be implemented, has been reached, it is a serious breach of the agreement,” he said.