By Yankuba Jallow
The University of the Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA) have agreed to end the ongoing sit-down strike after a successful meeting among UTG Management, lawmakers and the Executive on Saturday.
The sit-down strike by the staff of the Gambia’s sole public university began on Thursday, 1st July 2021.
The Secretary General of UTGFSA, Yerro Njie, said the round-table stakeholders meeting was successful adding all staff are urged to resume work on Monday, 5th July 2021.
The staff who were on strike included lecturers, cleaners, drivers, support staff and other staff among others. It was unanimously agreed at an extra-ordinary congress by staff of the University last week that they should embark on a sit-down strike.
“After over seven (7) hours of engagement with all the stakeholders of the University of The Gambia. (i.e. MOHERST, Governing Council, OP, Student Union and Chairman of the National Assembly Select Committee for Education, the Vice Chancellor and the UTG Management), the meeting unanimously agreed on some resolution and timeline for implementation,” Njie said.
Firstly, he said, the Governing Council will be dissolved immediately and a new one be replaced within three weeks with substantive new members and new Chairman, as provided in the Tertiary and Higher Education Act 2016. (timeline – on or before 19th July 2021).
“Secondly, a new Joint Search Council and Senate Committee will be constituted in line with the Byelaws of the University of The Gambia 1999.
“Thirdly, MOHERST to lift the ban on the UTG from running their engineering programs (on or before 19th July 2021).
“Fourthly, the Secretary-General and Head of the Civil Service instructed UTG to augment all allowance of the striving low scholarship allowance and match the amount with the UTG Training and Development Policy.
“Also, the Registrar officially hands over overseeing both the Directorate of HR and Records and correspondence of the University of The Gambia back to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration and Finance). This will be done ‘within a week’ starting from Monday,” he said.
They also agreed that all retired employees of the University be replaced with identified staff and TAC volunteers (effective 17th July 2021), until the Deans and Heads of Departments elections are held in August 2021.
They agreed that both the Position of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Admin will be advertised latest 9th July 2021. They also agreed on the staff demand for the election of Deans which shall be held on 15th August.
“On that note, the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA) decided to suspend the sit-down strike and keep monitoring the timelines as agreed. All staff are urged to report to work beginning on Monday 5th July 2021,” he said.
Njie said the UTGFSA wants to extend its sincere appreciation to the Secretary-General and Head of the Civil Service (Mr. Nuha Touray), for his leadership and high level of professionalism in bringing the sit-strike to an end. He also said the Staff Association thanked the UTG management through the Vice Chancellor for allowing a flexible negotiation and accepting the demands for the best interest of the University.
In addition, the Staff Association equally expressed gratitude to the University of The Gambia Student Union and its leadership and entire executive council for bringing all the parties under a single negotiating table, with maximum decorum and nonchalant.
Furthermore, he said the UTGFSA extend its sincere gratitude to MOHERST through the Permanent Secretary and the National Assembly Select Committee for Education, through their Chairman (Hon. Sidia Jatta), for their acumen and guidance throughout the negotiation process.
“They have demonstrated the great spirit of leadership, professionalism and flexibility on almost all the demands raised by the UTGFSA,” Njie said.
“The Staff Association wishes to inform the entire country that all the stakeholders during this meeting demonstrated a high level of maturity and spirit of national interest in all their deliberations and engagement on the subject matter.”