“Faculty Fights for Fairness”

…UNZA faculty demands full payment, threatens to lock out students

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24 – (July 10, 2024) – Faculty members at the University of Zambia (UNZA) have issued a stern ultimatum to the university management and the government, demanding the immediate settlement of overdue payments totaling over K500 million. The university staff, comprising three trade unions – UNZALARU, UNZAPROSU, and UNZAAWU – have been waiting for nine years for their dues.

Professor Andrew Phiri, President of UNZALARU, spoke on behalf of the unions, emphasizing the prolonged struggle and the critical juncture they have reached.

“We have talked. We have cried. We have danced. But today, we have gathered to send a message,” Phiri stated.

“We are tired of the promises and excuses. We want our money, and we want it now.”

The unions are demanding payment of K836 million in terminal benefits, K617 million in local superannuation funds, and K265 million in unremitted National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) contributions. The government has offered K50 million to settle payments for deceased and medical cases and a few retirees, which the unions have rejected, demanding a minimum of K250 million.

The faculty members have warned that if the university management and government do not resolve the payment issue, they will prevent students from resuming classes next week.

“The message we are sending to the UNZA management and the government is clear: please do not allow students to come back until the money owed to us is paid in full,” Phiri exclaimed.

“We will not allow the university to operate until our demands are met.”

The unions have announced ongoing protests over unpaid terminal benefits, following an emergency meeting with government officials that failed to resolve the issue.

Despite the government’s request for more time to source additional funds, no follow-up meeting has been scheduled since the initial discussion.

The faculty members are united in their demands and are willing to escalate the matter to the highest level of government.

“We are ready to go and see the president now because we want to go to the head of state so that he directs the people responsible to give us our money,” Phiri said.

“We will not back down until our demands are met.”

The impending disruption poses significant challenges for the university community, with faculty determined to see their demands met before allowing academic activities to resume.

The unions have reaffirmed their commitment to continue protests until their demands are met, explicitly stating that students should not be allowed to commence the second semester until the outstanding benefits are paid in full.

According to prof. Phiri, the situation has caused frustration and financial strain among UNZA staff, who have waited nine years for their terminal benefits.

He said the unions are adamant that the government must prioritize their demands and settle their dues immediately.

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