The university staff chose to strike over several unresolved grievances that management has continuously given a deaf ear.
Victoria University alond Jinja Road in Kampala. Photo by Maria Wamala
The Acting Vice Chancellor, Faculty Deans and several Heads of Department (HODs) at Victoria University have laid down their tools in protest of the failure of the university management to pay their October salaries, New Vision has learnt.
Documents obtained by New Vision from an anonymous source indicated that the University's staff chose to strike over several unresolved grievances that management has continuously given a deaf ear.
This happens at the time when Makerere University is indefinitely closed over a lecturers' strike.
"Following several grievances between the academic management team and the university management, the Deans and HOD's reached an agreement yesterday (Monday, October 31st) that effective today 1st November 2016; we are laying down our tools until the University either honors our requests or until further notice. This affects all faculties and departments," reads an excerpt from an e-mail sent to the respective academic heads on Tuesday.
It is understood that the University is currently running only with the help of private part-time lecturers. Sources privy to the university revealed that some of the grievances revolve around the staff's complaints about being forced to receive their salaries through Crane Bank.
"The members of staff are against the fact that their money must be received through Crane Bank. They say the situation has been made worse by the crisis at the bank which has made obtaining their money so beaurocratic. For one to get their money from any of the bank's branches, they have to first explain to the branch manager who then has to consult the manager of the main branch to approve any withdrawals; a process that takes several hours," the source explained.
Documents seen by New Vision reveal that the academic heads were instructed by the University proprietor, Rajiv Ruparelia to start clocking in and out and also sign in a log book every day. They were also told that their pay would be based on the clock-in times, a statement the staff opposed instantly.
"Everyone must be paid as per the hours you have clocked in and out and if any staff member is going out for any reason, it should be registered in the log book along with the reason, time in and time out and where they are going. This log book will be kept with the Registrar always," reads an email from Rajiv.
When New Vision visited the University premises along Jinja road, the Registrar's office which sits about eight officials was largely empty and loudly silent. Only one official was available to give comment but denied that none of the university staff was on strike and everything was normal albeit the seemingly slow business at the university.
Asked why his colleagues were absent from their work stations, he casually stated that they had just stepped out.
One of the Deans who preferred to remain anonymous revealed that all the problems at the University stem from one man, Joseph Nyakana - the University Registrar.
Nyakana is also the University Secretary and is currently also serving as the Acting Vice Chancellor after Dr. Francis Wasswa who has been serving in that position laid down his tools together with the Deans and HODs. However, the Deans argue that he is not qualified to hold the position of Ag. VC since he does not have a PhD.
"Rajiv has been misinformed by Nyakana for a long time now and this is affecting business at the University. We were working well before he came in around January this year and started feeding Rajiv with lies and employing underqualified persons whom we rejected. This infuriated him and has since made it his mission to make it hard for us to work at the University,' the source explained.
"We therefore in a meeting held on 31st October agreed to lay down our tools until our grievances are sorted. All we want is to be paid our October salaries and if we are to leave, do so in peace," the Dean stated.
The deans also revealed to New Vision that ever since they laid down their tools, no official communication has been made to them in regard to solving their outstanding concerns; a clear indicator of how disrespectful the University's administration is.
When contacted, the university's Public Relations Officer, Charity Byarugaba also denied any knowledge of a strike at the university and referred us to the owners of the university.
Victoria University is part of the Ruparelia Group of Companies; the same group under which Crane Bank that was recently taken over by Bank of Uganda is.