RESPONSE TO MEDIA REPORTS ON LASINU & SINUGSA’S ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THE VICE CHANCELLOR AND DEMANDS FOR HIS REMOVAL

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As many of you may have seen in the print media and social media recently, there has been unpalatable news cast in the public domain about the Solomon Islands

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National University (SINU) and its Vice Chancellor, with accusations of corruption and abuse, by the two SINU Staff Associations (LASINU and SINUGSA). It is with deep regret that the two Associations choose to conduct a media court-marshal of the

Vice Chancellor in the public domain rather than follow the University grievance policy and procedure approved by Council.

The public would recall that the Associations had in 2019 also accused the Vice Chancellor with the same allegations. The Vice Chancellor had responded to the

Associations allegations and asked them to provide the relevant evidences to justify their allegations. None was forthcoming until 24th June 2020. In their letter on that date, while presenting what evidence they have, they also demanded the Chair of

Council to terminate the Vice Chancellor and failing that, the combined Associations members will withdraw their services from the University.

The Chair of Council responded to their call on 25th June 2020, confirming the receipt of the combined Associations letter and that given some new allegations brought up in the letter of 24th June 2020, to give the Vice Chancellor the opportunity to respond to the allegations, especially the new ones. He also affirmed that the Vice Chancellor is still overseas and upon his return and his response to the allegations, the University Council will be in a better position to consider the Associations’ request.

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The two Associations responded to the Chair of Council’s letter on 29th June 2020, further demanding the termination of the Vice Chancellor with the ultimatum of withdrawing of services by Friday 3rd July 2020.

In view of this new wave of demands and ultimatums, Council had sought the legality of the two Associations from the Registrar General’s Office for compliance to the Trade Unions Act, with the question of whether they are registered unions. The

Registrar General’s Office informed Council by a letter of confirmation, that they have no record of the two associations as registered unions.

On 30th June 2020, the Chair of Council has written to the two Associations advising them of the letter of confirmation from the Registrar General’s Office and asking them to provide their “Certificates of Registration” if they disagreed with the Registrar General’s Office letter of confirmation. In this letter, the Chair of Council also indicated that if they fail to prove their legal status as unions representing the

SINU staff by Thursday 2nd July 2020, the University will seriously consider withdrawing recognition of the two Associations.

In addition, it is common knowledge now at SINU that there are very serious matters of fraud, abuse of process and compliance that the SINU Management are uncovering through the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, through a series of investigations and internal audits. When one looks at these and the demands by the two Associations who are being advised by those implicated in these internal audits, one calls into question the genuiness of these demands and ultimatums.

The University feels that the two Associations are acting in bad faith by using militaristic methods to demand the removal of the Vice Chancellor, instead of following the grievance policy of the University to deal with matters of this nature.

Dr Culwick Togamana, Chairman, SINU Council

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