Malawi Poly lecturers vow not to end strike

Lectures at the Malawi Polytechnic, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, Monday met their Chancellor President Joyce Banda at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre to brief her about their demand for salary increment.

But despite the meeting, the lectures have explicitly vowed that they would not resume work until their request for a 113 percent salary raise is honoured.

The lecturers have been on strike for close to a month now over the issue as government says it can only manage a 21 percent which the lecturers have turned down.

As the lecturers were meeting their Chancellor, on the other end angry students were engaging riot police in running battles that resulted in one cop being badly hurt.

The students took to the streets in a solidarity move to support their lecturers cause but police swiftly moved in to block the stone-wielding students by tear-gassing them.

Speaking about their meeting with President Banda, Secretary General of the Polytechnic Academic Staff Committee on Welfare (PASCOW) Gift Khangamwa hinted that their meeting was not to negotiate their demand with the president.

“As a matter of fact there is no change to the status quo [continuing with the strike]. We will continue striking until our demand is honoured,” said Khangamwa.

He said they only had an audience with President Banda to present to her the background to their salary increase demand which was also already presented to the University of Malawi Council.

“The meeting was not meant to lobby her for salary increment because the mandate to negotiate the salary increment rests with the University Council,” he explained.

The lecturers and representatives of the University Council met last Friday but reports show they failed to reach an agreement.

Kangamwa said they are waiting for another meeting with the council to continue with the negotiations until a way forward is reached between all the parties.

“We already had the first meeting and we hope it [Council] will call for another meeting soon to continue with the negotiations.

“We are just hopeful that the intervention of the Chancellor will speed up the process,” wished the secretary general.

During the Monday demonstrations at some point the angry students overpowered the police when they pounced on one of cop whom they heavily beat as his colleagues fled away with guns on their shoulders.

The officer was rescued by some students and rushed to Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital for treatment on his forehead and cheek.

Apart from supporting their lectures, the students were also demonstrating over inadequate monthly stationery allowances.

The students are supposed to be receiving K40 000 every month as stationery allowances after government announced that it had adjusted the allowances by 21 percent from K33, 000.

However, to their surprise during the month of August the students were shocked that the said 21 percent had not been implemented as they received the same old ration.

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