By Aja Musu Bah Daffeh
The University of The Gambia Senior Management Team (SMT) yesterday described the sit-down strike action by the Staff Association of UTGSA of the University as unreasonable. They further said that it is unreasonable to ask the Vice Chancellor and the SMT to resign, adding that the reason for the action is not clear to them. This was disclosed at a press conference organized by the Management team held at the Law Faculty on Wednesday 1st March, 2017 to offer their version of the issue at hand.
According to Professor Ousman Nyan, the Acting Vice Chancellor of the UTG, SMT has requested for a meeting with the UTGSA but the UTGSA insisted on meeting with the Vice Chancellor alone which he said was granted to them. “At the last meeting between the Executive of UTGSA and the Vice Chancellor, certain demands were made such as dissolution of the entire SMT, staff training and salary structure, teaching and learning materials, laboratories and classrooms etc” said the acting vice chancellor.
Prof. Nyan noted that the Vice Chancellor promised to look into their concerns and appealed to them to give him at least six (6) months to solve their key demands. For the record, Nyang said this is the second time that the UTG academic calendar has been disrupted by statement or actions of the Staff Association adding that this is a disservice to the Nation and to the students.
He also said that on the assumption of duty in October, 2016 the Vice Chancellor shared his vision and plans with the entire UTG community and its stakeholders and has been actively pursuing opportunities for support within and beyond The Gambia.
The UTG as an organization that is guided by statutes and regulations in its day-to-day operations, it is incumbent upon all staff to adhere to the prescribed rules, noting that for the avoidance of doubt, any staff who does not report to work without any legitimate reason will be sanctioned accordingly.
Mr. Almami Fanding Taal a Senior Law Lecturer of the UTG noted that every organisation in The Gambia is under law and is managed and administered according to the law of that institution, adding that they want to be very clear that if there are channels of communications open and established by law it behooves everybody involved in any situation to use these properly established channel.
He reiterated that they have attempted twice to have meeting with UTGSA, but he said they have refused to have meetings with the SMT of the UTG, noting that they have the matter with the Secretary General of the public and civil service, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of higher Education and Research Science and Technology and they have been advised by all these agencies to engage with the UTGSA and they have not been extended that courtesy.
Taal said the sit-down strike that the UTGSA have taken starting 1st March, adversely affects the academic calendar and the students more than anybody else, noting that the best interest of the students should guide all their actions. He said the SMT will not resign because all their process has been transparent.
He also said that there is no strike action in Law faculty, science and agriculture.
Mr. Muhammed Lamin Taro the UTG’s Registrar reiterated the stand of Management that they are ready to engage with the UTGSA. He said the academic calendar has been disrupted before and they haven’t recovered from it and they have even revised the academic calendar and if it is disrupted again it won’t be in favour of the students.
“We have taken our stance that if any member of staff did not report to work for any legitimate reason appropriate sanctions will be taken. Therefore my appeal is to all students to report for lectures because we will be going round to find out who is there and who is not and take appropriate action” said UTG registrar.
The President of the UTG Students Union who also doubles as the President of the National Union of Gambian Students, Ansumana B. Bojang revealed that there is no way the students’ union can condone such (sit-down strike). He noted they have a big obligation and the obligation is to make sure that the students get registered on time, pay their tuition fees and come to class; therefore they see no reason why students should come to class and would not find the lecturers.
He said he went to Brikama campus to monitor the situation and found a large number of students without the lecturers present in class because of the sit-down strike.
The position of the students’ leadership, he said, is that they have been in consultation with the other sub-association presidents and there is no formal communication to effect the protest therefore, for them everything is normal and the students are advised to go to school.