University of Zambia (UNZA) vice Chancellor Professor Luke Evuta Mumba says the institutions has cleared all the 2017 June salaries which it owed to lecturers and that the strike has been called off.

In an interview with News Diggers today, Prof Mumba said the strike was as a result of the delays by the Ministry of Finance to release the grants for the institution.

“Firstly I don’t think its right that lecturers every time there is a small delay, they go on strike in the sense that the academic staff need to look at it in the bigger picture of the economic situation in the country. There was a go-slow because salaries were delayed. They announced that on Thursday but by Friday we started paying salaries so that go-slow didn’t really take effect. As we speak now everything is very normal, they have all been paid. Academic programs are going on,” Prof Mumba said.

“UNZA salaries are paid every month, there is no month that we have not paid salaries except that they are delayed because we rely on Ministry of finance to give us our monthly grants for salaries. And the information we get from there is that they have challenges to collect enough funds, so that takes a bit of time. We have always paid on the 30th of every month but June was a bit unique in the sense that remember there was a holiday towards the end of June and then it spilt over to July. So that holiday is what made it a bit out of the normal time that we pay our salaries.”

Prof Mumba however complained that it does not send a good picture for the highest learning institution that lecturers should be going on strike or on go-slow every time there was a delay of two to three days in payment of salaries.

“So I would have expected members of staff to understand that because of this public holiday, that is why there was a delay. Because we always endeavour that salaries are paid and we communicate to them. We call them, we don’t necessarily have to write memos to them but we do inform the three executive unions to say this is the situation. So on that score, I will agree with you that it doesn’t augur well for the highest institution of learning, for people to go on go-slow or strike every time there is a minor delay of two to three days in payment of salaries, because in many cases the salaries do come is should not be like that. Because am aware that there are institutions in this country where people do not get their salaries for months, three months, six months without being paid but that has never been the case in the university,” he said.

Prof Mumba, however, said it was understood that lecturers also had other expectations due to challenges which they needed to address.

“But it is also correct that as employees they have expectations, they have challenges which they need to address in families. Bills, children school fees, so they have expectations. We have a pay day and they expect to be paid on that day. So that is on their side, they have a genuine grievance also but we are caught up between a hard play in the rock. While we appreciate fully the entitlement they and requirements for employers to pay salaries on time, we have to wait for government’s submission. But as we speak, all the salaries as it stands have been paid. We are now working with the Ministry of finance to ensure that the July salaries will be paid on the 30th of this month and not later than that. Otherwise every employee in the university was paid the June salaries,” said Prof Mumba.

“When lecturers go on strike, a lot of things are affected. It means that students are not getting 100 percent of the academic activities that they are supposed to receive. So then we lose time in terms of completing the academic year and also completing the course material that students are supposed to receive. So it is very very inconveniencing to the student. That is why from time to time you find that if the go-slow is prolonged, students also join in because they are discontented because they are unlikely to finish their programmes. And that also affects the exam time table, so may things get affected.”