THE University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU) says it foresees a go-slow by lecturers at the university due to delays in paying their overdue February salaries.
But Ministry of Higher Education Permanent Secretary Kayula Siame says the grant to the institution was released last Friday and that the lecturers were likely to start getting paid by Tuesday.
Last week a memorandum was issued at both the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt University that the February, 2021, salaries would be delayed and that management was doing everything possible to ensure that salaries were paid on time.
In an interview, UNZALARU general secretary Dr Kelvin Mambwe, however, warned that lecturers would induce a forced go-slow if their salaries were delayed as it would be difficult for most workers to report and work effectively without being paid.
He added that there was need to change the management style of the institution.
“I think the type of leadership style that is there, the management style where priorities are misplaced and so it becomes very difficult for people to get on ideas that are meant to advance the ideals of the institution. The biggest challenge that the university is faced with is underfunding from the government as well as the slow pace at which the money is released by the government. So, that in itself impedes progress, disturbs the operations of the institution. Besides that also, I think there is need for the University to have a different model of running the institution; management has to turn the style of running the institution, depend less on government, come up with different ways of raising resources and so on. When you have challenges that is when solutions should come. Challenges make us think outside the box and begin to come up with solutions that sustain the institution,” Dr Mambwe said.
“The Vice Chancellor will be addressing the nation next week; we hope in his address, he is going to tackle his vision. He has been around for the past five years, he says he is going to articulate what he has been able to achieve in the five years and what he intends to achieve if his term is renewed. So, we will wait to hear from him. He will be addressing the media on the 17th (of March). Management has got its own challenges, government has got its own challenges, so those two sets of challenges coupled together are what is making the institution struggle. So, I think going forward, as a union, if this problem continues, I think we will have no other recourse, but to slow down our work. In fact, it is actually by default that if you are not paid, the situation becomes difficult. Your ability to go for work is somehow compromised because you have no food, you have no transport. So, you don’t even have to go for a go-slow, it is just by default that the operations get slowed down. That is what we foresee. I am hoping that they will be able to start paying by tomorrow (Tuesday) or within the course of the week.”
He added that lecturers faced a number of challengers resulting from delayed payment of salaries.
“When you don’t get paid, you will have those problems; it means that you cannot live a normal life. It means it’s either you go into debt in order to cushion that period when you are not paid or you simply wait until you are paid. During the time you are waiting, you have to go on forced fasting because you know, the salaries we get are hand-to-mouth and of course, you have to take children to school, it means that your kids have to wait, you get paid, they may not go to school because you have no money. Even reporting for work becomes a challenge because most of us stay away from the university. So, they are very obvious challenges that members are going through,” bemoaned Dr Mambwe.
But Siame assured the struggling lecturers that they would start getting paid this week as government had already released the grants meant for the institution.
“I don’t know why the UNZALARU lecturers are behaving that way, I don’t understand it at all because there is no need to go slow, why should you go slow? The grants were released on Friday so I am sure that because it is a (public) holiday, I am sure they will get their money by tomorrow (Tuesday). It must be because of the holiday. So, why would they go slow because of the holiday? Because the grants were released, there is no need for a go-slow. I don’t know when they are getting paid; all I can tell you is they have released their grants so I am sure they must have started paying from Saturday. Now, because Sunday and Monday is a holiday, of course, they can’t get paid. I don’t understand why they do that,” said Kayula in a separate interview in Lusaka.