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Court gives Mzuni staff go ahead to hold sit-in

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The Industrial Relations Court (IRC) in Mzuzu has ruled in favour of Mzuzu University (Mzuni) Academic Staff Union and Support Staff Union in a case in which the university administration was challenging legality of a planned sit-in by the two unions.

The university council, through lawyer Geoffrey Nyirenda, applied for an injunction restraining the two unions from going ahead with the strike arguing all channels of negotiations were not exhausted.

But Deputy Chairperson of the Mzuzu IRC, Austin Msowoya, ruled that the period which the council proposed to hold negotiations before the sit-in expired after 21 days beginning August 5.

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Lawyer for the Mzuni staff unions, Christon Ghambi, said the ruling means the workers can continue with their strike as they planned.

“The university’s council was arguing that the staff did not follow proper procedures to stage a sit-in because they did not follow the negotiation process. Therefore, the court has dismissed their application because the 21 days of discussions over their salary hike elapsed. Now they have a right a to hold the strike,” Ghambi said.

Mzuni’s Communications and Marketing Manager Chigomezgo Gondwe- Chokani said the university will continue engaging staff and other relevant stakeholders on the matter.

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“In the unfortunate event of staff withdrawing their labour, Mzuzu University regrets the hardships that will be caused to the students both academically, as their education will be delayed, and personally, in that their health, safety and security cannot be guaranteed given the removal of key services,” she said.

Workers Union President Burnet Musopole said staff will go on with the strike.

Reacting to the ruling Mzuni Students Union President Wazamazama Katatu expressed dismay over the ruling saying that it will negatively affect the students.

“I have already invited my committee so that we can meet and see the way forward. We do not want their strike to affect us as students. The matter has now come out of hand because it is no longer with the management, but government now.

“We know matters of salary increments are handled by the university council. This ruling has put us in a very awkward situation because we want to be in class,” Katatu said.

The workers are demanding a 35 percent salary increment.

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