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Over Lecturers’ Industrial Strike… Academic Staff Association Disagrees With V P Jalloh

Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh

By Daniel Albert Cole and Eric Kallay (Interns)

The Academic Staff Association (ASA) of the University of Sierra Leone comprising Fourah Bay College, IPAM or the Institute of Public Administration and Management and the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) were on Tuesday 19, January 2021 engaged by the vice president, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh at the multipurpose building hall on Fourth Bay College campus in Freetown in a bid to assuage the impasse that threatens to disrupt the academic year.

The Vice President was in attendance with other senior government officials who went to meet with ASA over their condition of service as they continued an industrial strike.

The lecturers want the government to look into the indecent conditions of service, ranging from salaries, comfortable classrooms to among others, a decent

 way of living. Paramount on the agenda of demands was to discuss the 130 per cent increment of their salaries.

In his submission, Dr Jalloh pleaded with the aggrieved lecturers to call off the strike action and resume classes. He also called on them to show solidarity with the students who are at the brunt of the strike action.

He blamed the government’s inaction to satisfy the lecturers on the country’s economy that he said is being badly affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic.  He said this has led to the country losing Le. 1.5 trillion Leones in 2020.  But that notwithstanding, he said the government was able to make provision for an increase in salary for workers by 25 per cent which will also affect academic staff in public universities and polytechnics that will come into effect in April 2021.

Responding, President of the Academic Staff Association, Dr Willette James highlighted the reason for their action.  According to her, the ongoing industrial strike by all the staff of the constituent colleges of the University of Sierra Leone remains thus since their conditions of service have not been looked into since 2011.

“In 2019 when I assumed office as ASA president, we engaged the government on the proposal for our condition of service to be improved but that has not been the case and there has been no review since 2011,” said Dr James.

She said they were more aggrieved because their demands were not again factored in the 2020 budget. “The bill was read and our proposal was not considered. Similarly, when the 2021 budget was also read, there was no mention as well. We, therefore, take that the government is not taking us seriously, hence the decision for the industrial strike.”

Speaking on the condition of low and indecent salaries of lectures, she referred to some universities in Africa where she said professors were being paid over 15 thousand dollars net. She also made mention of a student who she taught at certificate level who did not even attempt the diploma class yet he earns twice what her salary as a lecturer with a Ph, D.

At the end of the meeting, there was no agreement as to when the lecturers would call off the strike action. However, chairman of the meeting, Dr Turad Senesie who doubles as former Higher Education Deputy Minister told pressmen outside the hall that they were going to set up a framework that would look into issues surrounding the industrial strike.

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