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KU teachers announce indefinite boycott of classes over non-payment of salaries

KU teachers announce indefinite boycott of classes over non-payment of salaries

KARACHI: Venting their anger and dismay over the university administration at a general body meeting of their society on Tuesday, teachers at Karachi University (KU) announced that they would suspend classes for an indefinite period to protest over the non-payment of last month’s salaries.

The announcement was made at a gathering held at the KU’s new administrative block.

The strike of the 600-plus (regular) teaching staff is to be supported by non-teaching employees, and will affect the over 25,000 university students.

Around 3,000 non-teaching staff — represented by the KU Employees Welfare Association — plan to launch a pen-down strike for an indefinite period on the same issue starting today.

“It’s unfortunate that teachers have to come out of their classes and labs to raise their voice for what is their basic right. This is reflective of the administration’s incompetence and the provincial government’s ad hocism that have brought the university to this stage,” Karachi University Teachers’ Society president Dr Shakeel Farooqui said in the opening remarks of his speech.

He warned the provincial government, the Higher Education Commission (HEC), and the university administration that if the teachers’ demands were not accepted, they would take their protest to the Chief Minister House and the Governor House.

“And that demonstration would have the participation of all employees as well as students,” he said.

He vowed that teachers would continue with a complete boycott of classes even if a single employee was without salary.

“There is an immediate need for a raise in the university’s grant. There will be no compromise with the administration on this issue,” he said.

Some of the major demands of the teachers, approved with consensus, include on-time payment of salaries and leave encashment to teaching and non-teaching staff under the rules; bringing transparency in the university’s financial affairs by keeping the government grant and the income generated by the university in separate accounts; and sacking all incompetent employees appointed by the provincial government.

The programme saw some scathing remarks against the director finance who the teachers accused of deliberately adopting delaying tactics to release salaries and other financial benefits to employees.

There were also allegations of a number of illegal actions taken by him.

“While he ended overtime for university employees, he himself took overtime of over Rs100,000. He appears to have hired a person whose contract with the university had been over four months ago,” shared Prof S.M. Taha, a senior KU teacher and executive member of the society, while sharing teachers’ concerns over the relevant officer.

The university employees, he pointed out, had been asked by the director finance to pay house repairs from their own pocket which was earlier the responsibility of the university administration. “On the other hand, employees have no clue where the amount being charged is going,” he said.

Calling for action against him, teachers urged the administration to declare all his actions taken against university rules and regulations as null and void.

Making a case for some other demands, teachers said that the university administration should immediately handover the project grants being received from the HEC and other institutions to them.

The HEC should raise the annual KU grant and allocate Rs2,500m for the university. The provincial government should immediately release Rs350m to the university allocated to the institution for the year 2015-16.

“Teachers are directly being affected by official apathy over non-increase in the university grant and continued delay on the part of the Sindh government in releasing the grant approved by it a month ago,” said secretary Kuts Moiz Khan.

Dr Nasiruddin, Dr Riaz Ahmed, Dr Haris Shoaib, Dr Anila Amber, Osama Shafeeq and Khalid Jamal also spoke during the programme.

Later speaking to Dawn, president KU Employees Welfare Association Iftikharuddin said the non-teaching staff stood with the teachers over the salary issue and all employees would observe a pen-down strike starting today which would continue till their complaints were addressed.

“We believe the director finance is the root cause of all problems we are facing today. The university has appointed him to sort out financial woes and not vice versa,” he said.

To a question, he said that the vice chancellor was helpless before the director finance. “Whenever we contact the vice chancellor over the delay in salary and leave encashment release, we are told that financial affairs are being handled by the director finance alone and he can’t intervene.”

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2016

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