By Modou S. Joof
After ten days, the staff of the University of The Gambia (UTG) has brought to an end a sit-down strike over poor wages, capacity building and poor facilities on Friday, March 10.
It follows a meeting on Wednesday between the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOHERST), Badara A. Joof, the UTG Administration and the Executive of the Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA).
The parties reached a deal, which the UTGFSA called “satisfactory” to end the strike that has seen the beginning of the second semester disrupted. The lectures are to resume on Monday March 13.
The staff accused the university’s senior management team (SMT) of pursuing misplaced priorities by buying vehicles for themselves when employees of the UTG are poorly paid, denied benefits to further training or studies, a lack of a physical or E-library and internet connection, and poor sanitary conditions at the university. They wanted it dissolved.
A nine-point agreement has given into their demands. The SMT is dissolved with immediate effect; and positions that are not reflected in the current UTG budget abolished.
They agreed that the University Governing Council be reconstituted with a mandate of being the sole authority to make senior appointments.
The tripartite meeting also agreed that an independent Audit of the University Finances to be undertaken as a matter of urgency, that the Acting Vice Chancellor, University Registrar and Finance Director to facilitate the procurement of 50 computers to be distributed equally between the School of Business in Kanifing and the School of Arts and Sciences in Brikama.
As part of the deal, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) should expedite the procurement process for laptops earmarked for University Staff and students.
“This assignment should be accomplished latest 22nd March 2017. For logistical reasons, the distribution of the said laptops should begin with the Academic and Administration staff and later the students,” the parties said.
Mr. Joof, minister of higher education, has ask the University authorities in collaboration with the Governing Council to put in place a committee that would review the pay structure of the University.
He promises to use his contacts to assist the University authorities in leveraging additional resources for the institution. The Minister’s next meeting with the group is scheduled for 20th March 2017.
A UTGFSA congress on Friday “unanimously decided that the actions taken by the Minister were satisfactory in so far as the demands of the Faculty and Staff Association are concerned.”
Its President, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, said: “It was therefore decided that the strike action be called off and that both faculty and staff of the University should resume work on Monday, March 13, 2017.”