NUL lecturers threaten to strike

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ROMA — Teachers and researchers at the National University of Lesotho (NUL) say they will go on strike in August if the management fails to receive and address their petition against the decision to reduce the intake this year.
The Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (Lutaru) is angry that the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Sharon Siverts, has not received the petition drafted two weeks ago to oppose the decision to reduce the number of students.
Ramohapi Shale, the president of Lutaru, said the petition also reiterated the previous grievances that the union had against the university.
These include poor working conditions, a shortage of teaching aides, poor infrastructure and low wages.
He said because Siverts has been avoiding their petition they have now resorted to a strike which he said will bring the university to a standstill.
“Right now there are no negotiations. All we see is arrogance on their (management) part. The VC refused to accept our petition,” Shale said. “She has been postponing the meetings we were supposed to have. She lately said she would meet us when she gets the time.”
However Siverts yesterday denied that the university management had refused to meet Lutaru. She said the management postponed the meeting with Lutaru because the university “did not have updated information to share with them”.
She added that when the management called a meeting with unions last week Lutaru did not turn up.
Shale said in the meantime the union will bombard Siverts with more petitions until she listens to them.
They will submit petitions to Siverts twice a month until she agrees to address their grievances.
“We will also petition the minister of education,” he said. “On the 15th of August we will resume the strike.”
Last year the university, which is already in financial doldrums, was closed for two months after teachers and researchers went on strike.
At that time Lutaru complained about the working conditions and low wages.
Management closed the university after talks to resolve the impasse collapsed.
The government has announced that it will sponsor only 1 120 new students this year instead of the usual 1 600, citing shortage of funds.
The decision has also triggered howls of complaints from student leaders and teachers’ unions across the country.
Shale said if by August 15 Siverts does not solve matters they will organise a bigger strike that “will see all school businesses from NUL, LCE (Lesotho College of Education), Lerotholi Polytechnic, high schools, primary schools and even crèches going on hold”.
He said the second strike will be bigger and more effective because it will include other unions.

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