The University of Malawi (Unima) has dismissed demands by Chancellor College (Chanco) academic staff for harmonisation of pay with their counterparts at College of Medicine (CoM) as lacking basis.
Unima’s position has hardened the staff’s decision to proceed with their planned strike.
Unima registrar Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga said in an interview yesterday that during a meeting with Chancellor Colloge Academic Staff Union (Ccasu) on Sunday, Unima management stressed that the issue of some CoM staff getting about 40 percent more than their counterparts in other Unima constituent colleges has been in existence since 1991 when CoM was established.
Malunga said when CoM was being established, Professor John Chiphangwi, who was the coordinator of the medical school project, learnt from study tours how medical schools were being run and discovered that was the practice; hence, implementing the policy.
He said: “They [other colleges] are talking about apartheid, but what kind of apartheid is this when some people work in the night teaching and training students and attending to patients when the rest of us are at home sleeping? Can we say we do the same work?”
Malunga also accused the academic staff of neglecting the conciliation report produced by private practice lawyer Modecai Msisha who was chosen after mutually agreeing with both parties to arbitrate on the whole issue.
He said Unima would deliberate on Msisha’s report and write the Ministry of Labour, Sports, Youth and Manpower Development for direction.
During the Sunday meeting, Unima management led by vice-chancellor John Kalenga Saka pleaded with union representatives not to strike.
Msisha’s report dated February 22 2017 has five recommendations, including that the university should declare its commitment to the single salary structure for all academic staff.
It also recommends that the university should restate the basis for the introduction and existence of the supplementation and the qualifying factors for recipients and develop and maintain a clear list of those qualifying for supplementation.
According to the report, the university should also restate that it is only an agent of Ministry of Health (MoH) receiving and disbursing supplementation to those qualified to receive it.
Ccasu president Anthony Gunde said in a separate interview yesterday that staff are not against some lecturers getting the extra 40 percent, but rather, they are advocating for equal pay in the constituent colleges under Unima.
He said: “As you can see, the issue is not Chanco alone but Unima wide. The strike is a battle for equal pay for equal work. We have no qualms with some staff at CoM getting an extra allowance, but if it is from the same employer, then that is wrong.”
Besides Chanco and CoM, Unima also has The Polytechnic and Kamuzu College of Nursing (KCN) as two other constituent colleges.
Recently, calls have been made by education activists for the unbundling of colleges that are under Unima into autonomous universities.
The activists have argued that giving autonomy to Unima colleges would resolve long standing governance and bureaucratic challenges currently being faced in the colleges.
Documents The Nation has seen show that Ccasu together with Polytechnic Academic Committee on Welfare (Pascow), CoM Staff Welfare Committee and KCN Staff Welfare Committee wrote Unima Council on September 5 2016 asking them to intervene in the salary disparity issue.