University of Malawi students have expressed dismay with the sit-in undertaken by University’s Support staff, arguing that it is going to negatively affect their studies.
In an interview on Tuesday with Malawi News Agency (Mana) in Blantyre, University of Malawi Students Union (UMSU) President, Griefson Gaven said they were failing to access some essential services that complemented their studies in the respective constituent colleges of the university.
“Our studies have been put to a halt especially, with the closure of libraries, laboratories and clinics. We feel we are being denied our right to education,” he said.
One of the constituent colleges affected is the Polytechnic whose Students Union President is Japhet Nthala who concurred with Gaven in his sentiments regarding the strike.
“We are hugely affected by the strike as we are failing to do our studies or work on assignments, particularly in the library being the only reliable resource centre here,” Nthala lamented.
However, Gaven said the UMSU was in the process of engaging the University Council to make sure that the two sides reach a compromise on the issue at hand.
“We are also engaging with the University Workers Trade Union (UWTU) to resolve the differences amicably and as soon as possible with the University Council so that all the suspended services should resume,” he said.
The Support Staff of UNIMA are on a strike to force government to increase their perks and arrears in respect to a demand for 10 per cent increase which Parliament approved in the 2018/19 National Budget.
UWTU Secretary General, James Khando claimed that the issue has been outstanding for a long time because of failed efforts for reconciliation with management of the University, adding that UNIMA Council paid the 10 per cent increment only to academic and administrative members excluding the support staff.
UNIMA Registrar, Benedicto Malunga blamed UWTU leadership for proceeding with the strike despite the discussions still underway.