BULAWAYO – A three-month strike by lecturers at Zimbabwe’s National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has forced authorities to postpone the re-opening of the university amid desperate efforts to end the strike.
NUST was supposed to re-open for its first semester on Monday, but because of the industrial action, authorities now expect to admit students on September 29.
They expect to have sealed a new salary deal with their employees by then.
The strike for better salaries and working conditions by academic staff at the university started in June and has continued with no end in sight.
A lecturer at the university who spoke on condition of anonymity, said their salaries ranging from $150 billion ($15 revalued) and $250 billion ($25) are ridiculously low and they cannot continue to report for work.
Continuing to turn up for work when they earn such low salaries, said the lecturer, is tantamount to subsidizing the employer.
“We were expecting back pays at the end of June, but the university did not pay us. From then on we decided not to turn up for work because the salaries are too low. You cannot continue coming to work when your salary is not enough to pay for your transport for one day. You will be subsidizing the employer.”
The salaries are not enough to buy a single loaf of bread, whose price now averages $2 trillion ($200 revalued). Junior and middle-level doctors last week also went on strike, to press the government to increase their salaries or alternatively, to pay them in foreign currency as promised. Although other civil servants have had modest salary increases of late; those working for universities have not had any meaningful increases because they are not paid by the government directly through the Salary Service Bureau, but through their universities.
In an apparent bid to cushion itself from financial distress, NUST this week made an unprecedented appeal for students to pay deposit fees by the end of this week before they can be admitted for the new academic year. Usually students are given until the end of their first week at the university to pay up.
Felix Moyo, the university’s Director of Public Relations, said new applied sciences students must pay $3,3 trillion ($3 300 revalued) while those in the faculties of commerce and communication and information science must pay $ 2, 3 trillion ($2 300). He said those who fail to do so by the close of business yesterday would lose their places to others that are on the waiting list. – ZimbabweJournalists
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