The University of Malawi (UNIMA) Council has angered its employees including lecturers after the council unilaterally decided to stop service gratuity that staff members get as terminal benefits upon retirement.
This was done with no plan to pay benefits to staff members, most of whom have worked for the university for many years.
Worse still, the decision was communicated in a one sentence memo which members have described as degrading and inhuman.
Both academic and junior staff unions have protested the decision of the council and given the council an ultimatum to reverse the decision by 9th December 2022.
In a letter to the council, Thokozani Bodza-Mbewe who is general secretary of University Workers Trade Union (UWTU) argued that the removal of service gratuity from the conditions of service amounts to
a reduction of pay of the members.
“The reduction of pay by employer
is not allowed under the labor laws.
“The members further observed that if the Council removed the gratuity on
conditions of service on its own that would mean unfair labor practice and breach of expectation because a member will receive less income than he/ she would have received at the time of retirement.
“If Council is stopping service gratuity as it has communicated, it should see to it
that the funds are there for employees to receive their service gratuity there and
then,” reads part of the letter dated dated 2 December and addressed to the university registrar.
Meanwhile, the Chancellor College Staff Union (CCSU) through its lawyer has written a demand letter to the university saying the UNIMA council should reverse the decision to unilaterally stop service gratuity for its tenured members of staff pending an agreement between Council and these members on when and how this gratuity will be paid to them.
“The council should, in the event that it resolves not to reverse this decision, immediately pay off gratuity to all these members.
“Council should serve them individually with revised contracts of employment, without a term providing for gratuity, for the individuals to accept or not,” says the letter dated 5 December.
The staff members through the lawyer gave the council 3 days to respond to the letter.
The Council has not yet responded to both letters of protest.
Meanwhile, UNIMA staff members are set to meet today to make a decision.
UNIMA has just reopened after a month of closure due to student demonstrations.
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