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NUL’s non-academic staff petition Mahao

May 23, 2019 5 min read

5 min read

… but Mahao says NUL staff may go months without salary The National University of Lesotho (NUL)’s Non Academic Workers' Union (NAWU) members on Wednesday handed a petition of their grievances to the institution's Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao. Clad in orange T-shirts and black caps the workers could be seen moving around the campus chanting liberation songs while holding placards. Reading the petition, NAWU Secretary General, Nthofeela Moleko, said for over 10 years the university has failed to pay staff their back pay termed “Malilemo” even though the Court of Appeal ruled that such money be paid. Besides, she added, they have realised that such money is always included in the annual budget therefore they want it to be addressed before the end of 2018/19 academic year. She said for the past seven years, NAWU members have not been getting any promotions which she said is against Ordinance 11, subsection 3.1 which states that once a year the Appointment Committee shall invite applications from and or recommendations for promotion on behalf of all its employees and that recommendations may be made by any superior of the employee therefore urging the management to ensure implementation of such law. She noted that they have also realised that NAWU members are discriminated against when it comes to acting allowances and that whenever members are in acting positions they are not paid for that. She urged management to address the matter. Ms. Moleko stated that after the implementation of the Patterson paying scale employees' salaries have not been increased by bands and this has to be dealt with immediately. Additionally, she indicated that overtime issues should be addressed in line with the labour code citing that currently in other departments workers get days off as compensation for overtime while in some departments they are paid.  Again she urged management to ensure that the matter is addressed and that if workers are paid overtime it should be so across board and not only benefit certain sections. Amongst others NAWU wants NUL management to review the structure for secretaries saying the current structure discriminates against long-serving secretaries as it does not allow them to move to higher grades which is the highest position in the non-academic structure. They also want to get their payslips in hard copy saying it is not every staff member that could access online payslips as some do not have computers. Accepting the petition, Professor Mahao said it is high time that the management and union jointly addressed some of the grievances and find a common understanding so that they have a way forward. He explained that they have a budget deficit but they always include 'Malilemo in their budget with the hope that when they get enough money they would be able to pay it. He added the government has cut down the subvention for NUL and therefore they do not have money. On the issue of promotions, the Vice Chancellor said it was initiated when NUL was still well-off financially saying they can only promote into vacancies which are in the establishment. He highlighted that an acting allowance is only given in positions of Director and upwards saying the decision was made by the NUL Council adding that there is nothing he can do as he found that already in place when he got to the office. “The Patterson pay scale was also the decision made by the Council in 2006 based on the performance management system. However, the salaries of NUL workers are very embarrassing therefore we have to work together to pull away from the Patterson paying scale,” he added. Prof Mahao delineated that review of structure for secretaries is part of what they are currently working on. He added that some of the issues they are still to look into with the management. Meanwhile NAWU has given the management 14 days to address their grievances. Professor Mahao is the ninth Vice Chancellor and he took the office in 2015. His contract is expected to end around September this year. In his response to the NUL staff grievances Professor Mahao  says with the rate that the institution is going financially, it might not be able to pay workers for four to six months. This Professor Nqosa Mahao revealed this on Wednesday when addressing members of the Non Academic Workers Union (NAWU) where he said since 2017 /18 to 2019/ 2020 the subvention has decreased from M110 million to M78 million. He said the subvention they get from government is mostly used to pay workers' salaries and since it has decreased they will not be able to cover staff salaries saying that it is not possible to run the institution with such money. 'We are yet to discuss this with the NUL Council', he said. He stated that the subvention is drawn from the government's operations budget which he noted it is also said to be cut by 30 per cent saying this has resulted in the Ministry of Development Planning informing them that bursaries will be cut by 30 per cent as well. He added that they were told that in order to make this workable, they should not have intake for 2019 / 2020 first year students if they stick to their 10 per cent fees adjustment or that they decrease fees. 'If subvention is low and fees are decreased then that would result in staff not being paid because both subvention and student fees are major sources of income. There is no way that the institution of higher learning would be run without money', he stressed. The Vice Chancellor indicated that since his tenure of office he has worked with different governments and each is worse compared to the other saying that government seem not to care about the institution and education system as a whole emphasising that all they want is for NUL to collapse. He explained that in 2017 / 18 they were given M110 million in subvention, in 2018 / 19 it was M99 million while in 2019 / 20 it is M78 million saying this is unfair because the budget which pays public servants' salaries is not affected by the 30 per cent cut in operations. Meanwhile the agency has learned that other institutions of higher learning experiencing the cut in subvention include Lesotho College of Education (LCE), Lerotholi Polytechnic (LP), Centre for Accounting Studies (CAS). However efforts to speak to the Minister of Development Planning were fruitless. Lena


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