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Unima support staff sit-in starts

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By Feston Malekezo:

Over 900 support staff in all the constituent colleges of the University of Malawi (Unima), including those at the Unima central office, started a sit-in Tuesday to press the university to effect a 10 percent salary raise.

Unima Trade Union President, Mike Namandwa, said they would get back to work once Unima hikes their perks.

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“The sit-in is a last resort as per the Labour Relations Act so I would urge fellow members to remain vigilant until justice has been delivered,” he said.

The increment is based on a 10 percent offer which the government made in July 2017 to all statutory corporations including Unima.

The support staff said they did not receive the 10 percent increment despite Unima Council giving the same to academic and administrative members of staff.

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During a visit to the Polytechnic, Chancellor College and College of Medicine, constituent colleges of Unima, we found support staff loitering about while others were playing games.

Library, laboratory and other services offered by the support staff were not available.

In a statement released yesterday, Chancellor College Students Union has appealed for calm among students as the union is engaging relevant authorities on the matter.

“Industrial action of any kind at school leaves no one but the students as ultimate victims. The union is also upset with the tendency of not resolving grievances through contact and dialogue, let alone in time. As a union, we find this behaviour very misplaced, retrogressive and uncalled for… students will therefore be advised duly on a way forward should the sit-in continue,” reads the statement in part.

Unima Registrar, Benedicto Wokomaatani Malunga and spokesperson Alfred Banda could not be reached on their mobile numbers. But Secretary for Labour, Joseph Mwandidya, said on Sunday that he was not aware of the issue as he has not been in office.

In April this year, support staff staged a sit-in demanding that the Unima Council honours its pledge to effect a 12 percent salary increment from an agreed 25 percent. the council only effected a 13 percent increment.

Eventually, the Unima Council obtained an injunction, restraining the Unima support staff from holding the sit-in.

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