By AjaMusu Bah Daffeh
The University of the Gambia Staff Association (UTGSA) apropos on sit-down strike with effect from today, 1st March, pending the resignation of the Senior Management Team (SMT) and Vice Chancellor, officials of the association disclosed at a press conference on Monday, 27thFebruary, 2017. According to them there will be no lectures if the Senior Management Team (SMT) and the vice chancellor do not resign.
The two groups have been on an impromptu push and pull earlier in February. UTGSA stated that the “University community has learned with utter dismay, the Vice chancellor and his management’s purchase of 6 new vehicles which cost close to 8 million Dalasis.”
Nyimasata Camara, the PRO of the Association said this move outraged the entire University community, majority of who are part of the Staff and Faculty Association. The consensus from the general membership is that by considering to purchase new vehicles to be shared among themselves, the management has proven that they have zero regards for all the persisting problems, poor working and learning conditions students and staff alike face. They added that their action is seen as insensitive and a case of misplaced priority.
They asserted that what makes this even more disheartening is that for the past two years, the SMT of the University, under the leaderships of Vice Chancellors Professor Mustapha I.A. Khalil and Professor Faqir Anjum have failed to create the necessary conditions that will transform the university into a student-centered and research-led university that is recognized both locally and globally.
“Classroom space and furniture are so limited that most of the classes are always over-crowded. Some lectures and examinations are conducted outside in the open due to lack of space. Offices are not adequate for the faculty and staff to use to meet students and better serve their needs. There is virtually no internet connection and a well-equipped library on campus for lecturers and students to use for research and other academic purposes. Part of the tuition fees that students pay includes internet service although this is not provided for them” said the UTGSA.
UTGSA lamented that when these said issues came to fore, the SMT responded by dismissing staff concerns and singling out an individual noting that their aim was to change and control the narrative and make a serious and persistent administrative and management malfunctioning look to the outside world as a matter of one person’s personal agenda.
Despite the continuing unwillingness of SMT to validate and acknowledge staff concerns and grievances, the UTGSA said they were willing to proffer a peaceful solution to this situation through dialogue even after threatening a sit down strike. “We first met with the Permanent Secretary of the MoHERST and following their advice, we made an attempt to engage the senior management, the Vice Chancellor specifically, in dialogue so as to find peaceful resolution to the standoff for the general interest of the University” UTGSA noted.
As a result of the above-mentioned developments, therefore, UTGFSA unanimously decided that the association has no choice but to implement their planned sit down strike which will begin at exactly 8am on Wednesday, March 1 until such a time that their demands are met.