Vice-chancellor says hopes strike won’t go ahead

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ROMA — Professor Sharon Siverts says she hopes the Lesotho University Teachers and Researchers Union (Lutaru) will cancel their strike planned for next month and cooperate with the National University of Lesotho (NUL) management.
Siverts said Lutaru has been hostile to the university management.
“Lutaru has been vocal and critical of all that is going on at the university. The fact is that the administration has tried to consult but Lutaru has refused to meet,” Siverts said at a press conference on Monday.
“When they wanted to deliver a petition, we agreed but they wanted to dictate the terms.”
Last month Lutaru president Ramohapi Shale alleged that Siverts refused to accept a petition of grievances they delivered to her office.
The petition included complaints about poor working conditions and salaries.
Shale said they will resume the strike on August 15 if Siverts does not address their grievances.
But the vice-chancellor told the press on Monday that she hoped Lutaru would not carry out their threat of a strike.
“Lutaru has given notice of industrial action on August 15, working to interrupt the education of the students and at a time when we are trying to find ways to resolve significant financial issues to sustain the university.”
“We hope that Lutaru will set aside differences and come together for the benefit of the future of the university,” she said.
Shale however told the Lesotho Times yesterday that the union is still planning to down tools.
“We are still going to petition the management. The August 15 strike is still on,” Shale said.
He also admitted that Lutaru did not attend a meeting with the management.
“We were not given the scheduled time and so we missed the meeting,” he said.
Siverts said management has to make drastic measures to turn around the fortunes of the university but warned that this would not be easy if unions remained hostile to change.
“The university is passing through challenging times. As we begin to come to grips with our challenges, we have had to contend with a widespread culture of lack of accountability at almost all levels of the university and a resistance to change,” Siverts said.
“Over the past decade or two the university has deteriorated in almost all respects. During this time, little was done to arrest the downturn.”
“This situation has now, as they say, ‘come home to roost’ and it is now incumbent on those of us presently at the university to work with internal and external stakeholders to reverse this disturbing trend however difficult that may be.”
She added: “There is need to take a firm hold of the situation and effect change. Even now, there are actions this administration should be taking, but has not.
“The primary obstacle in this regard is the NUL Act and Statutes which do not permit and enable the management to make necessary decisions.
“Restructuring is not just about reducing posts and persons. A policy will be presented to a sub-committee of council this week and when approved, it will be shared with the campus and the process of restructuring will progress,” Siverts said.

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