Salone News

Aureol Crisis: FBC Lecturers on the warpath

8 April 2007 at 23:44 | 541 views

By Abu B. Shaw.

The imbroglio currently brewing between lecturers and the authorities of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, is seemingly far from over.

Fourah Bay College students, the innocent victims of the fracas, have lost count of the number of times the university authorities have promised the lecturers to resolve the financial and other problems that refused to go away at the university.

The lecturers, represented by the Academic Staff Association (ASA) of FBC, have agreed to prolong their strike action until their demands are met. The unpopular tactics adopted by the university authorities to renege on their promises is however making matters worse.

As a result of this deceit, ASA members have considered this as a betrayal of trust, thus prompting a press release dated March 15, 2007 in which ASA catalogued its intentions to resume their industrial strike.

The press release, which is in possession of the Patriotic Vanguard read: “The Academic Staff of Fourah Bay College embarked on an industrial action of 12th February 2007 following deduction of additional tax from staff salaries by the university without due consultation with the affected staff.”

Signed by Dr. Jinnah S. Momoh, President ASA-FBC and co-signed by Secretary General ASA-FBC Mr Charles J. Silver, the press release added: “Following the strike action, the university authorities, in consonance with representation of the Government of Sierra Leone, in particular the Office of National Security and the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, summoned the ASA-FBC executive to a meeting to address the issues raised by ASA-FBC.”

The ASA press release stated that after exhaustive discussion of the issues in question, all parties agreed that ASA-FBC had genuine grievances that needed redress. ASA was thus implored to suspend the strike action in return for appropriate salary adjustments so that net take home pay of staff is not reduced in spite of the correct income tax deductions and a refund of amounts that were deducted for the month of January by February.

Concluding, the ASA press release noted that ASA was obliged to suspend the strike action and examinations resumed. ASA members were shocked when at the end of February not only were further deductions made but the earlier deductions for the month of January which the university authorities had agreed to refund were never refunded. So on March 14, 2007, a meeting was held where ASA members unanimously agreed to resume strike action.

Professor A. A. Gbakima (photo), Vice Chancellor and Principal of Fourah Bay College, was among the signatories of the memorandum of understanding reached with ASA. Professor Gbakima late last month denied any allegation of betrayal and said that the stakeholders have held several meetings in the past couple of weeks to address the lecturers’ grievances.

Professor Gbakima promised: “We are not going to pay them again at the end of March, but the lecturers’ problems will be solved by early April. The Acting Director of Finance is working on the 30% refund and hopefully would sign the cheque by early April.” He pleaded that resuming industrial action again would only create an embarrassment.

Other individuals who witnessed the agreement, which was partly respected, included the Deputy Vice Chancellor FBC, Dr. J.A.S Redwood-Sawyer; the University Registrar Mr. E.T. Ngandi and a representative from the Office of National Security.

When Patriotic Vanguard spoke to ASA president Dr. Jinnah S. Momoh on Saturday April 7, he reiterated that until all their grievances are met the strike will continue. Dr. Momoh however confirmed that their late salaries have been paid and all monies owed them have been refunded.

Dr. Momoh, speaking from Freetown, was quick to point out that the strike action is not only about wages. He said: “We met on Tuesday and Wednesday (April 3, 4) to remind the university authorities about the poor working conditions FBC staff are working day in day out. One can not get maximum input from the lecturers if the general working conditions are below standard.”

Editor’s note: We would like to apologise to our numerous readers for the technical glitch that hit us yesterday and which extended to this afternoon. The problem has been resolved,everything is now okay. Stay blessed.