UNZALARU general secretary Kelvin Mambwe says the its members will not lecture students when the University of Zambia reopens next week Monday until salary arrears are cleared.

In an interview, Mambwe said bringing students to campus when the university had not prepared for industrial harmony was going to be chaotic.

“The University has announced that it is reopening on June 29 for the classes that are supposed to be graduating. We are saying that bringing students to the university when the university has not prepared for industrial harmony will be chaotic. We are owed two salaries for May and June, lecturers and other workers have not been paid. So as UNZALARU, our members are not going to work amidst a situation where they have not been paid. We have told management that it will be very difficult to teach these students if they don’t pay us the two salaries. Not until they are able to pay us the two salaries are we going to provide the lectures to our students. Failure to pay the two salaries at the same time, we have told them we are not ready to teach the students. They should not expect to see us on the 29th, not until they give us what they owe us,” Mambwe said.

“We are appealing to the government to take higher education seriously. This habit of delaying grants as well as the fees for students who are sponsored by the government, is very unfair. And I know that is a deliberate ploy to punish us for things that are not known. As I am talking, our members will undergo double loan deductions so even if salaries will be paid tomorrow or the other week, we would have suffered double deductions, most of our members are owing bank loans. How do they expect us to work and provide a service to our citizens? As they are talking about reopening, let them also put in place measures that will avert situations that will disturb the institution.”

Mambwe threatened a strike if salaries were not paid.

“We are going to take this matter to the courts of law. We will declare a dispute and the dispute should see us into declaring a formal strike. I think that is what they want. How do they expect me to work if you have not paid me for the services I have offered in the past months? It is illogical! How do you survive? How do you drive your vehicle without fuel? How do you take your children to school? All they are saying is that let us sacrifice for the institution. Sacrifice comes at a cost. You cannot just sacrifice without being paid,” said Mambwe.

“You sacrifice for something that you know one day you will be compensated. I think our members have sacrificed a lot for over 10 years. We have understood the challenges. For example, we are owed two, three gratuities from 2010 to date. But we are not going to allow this thing to apply to salary because a salary is a lifeline of our employment. If you don’t pay me then it becomes difficult for me to discharge the normal duties.”