The academic and non-academic staff of the Solomon Islands National University tonight voted to go on strike by Friday—as they stand by their decision to withdraw their services from the university until the Vice-Chancellor is terminated.
At a joint meeting at the Kukum Campus and attended by members of the Lecturers Association of Solomon Islands National University (LASINU) and the Solomon Islands National University General Staff Association (SINUGSA) agreed to start the strike on Friday.
“Yes. We have all agreed to go on strike by Friday,” a spokesman for LASINU and SINGUSA told SBMOnline tonight.
The SINU workers had served a seven-day notice to the SINU Council chairman Dr Culwick Togamana last Thursday demanding he terminates the VC, failing to do so would result in them withdrawing their services from SINU.
In the past seven days, both parties had exchanged letters on their positions, and last night Dr Togamana stated that the university felft that the two associations were 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.
Regardless of the plea from the chairman, the two associations were unmoved and tonight backed their original demand to go on strike if the VC was not terminated.
“Our position is clear, the VC leaves otherwise we will not return to work,” the associations’ spokesman said.
Amongst the six allegations, the associations’ claimed that staff’s emails have been spied on. They alleged that whilst there was no direct mention of the VC’s involvement to spy on the staff emails, it can be constructed that the orders to conduct the exercise must be approved by those in higher office at SINU and this must be none other than the VC.
The SINU associations’ furthermore asserted that there were abuses of recruitment or conflict of interest. In one case, the SINU associations alleged that according to their investigations, the appointment of the post of executive officer at the VC’s Office was done without going through the due process of recruitment. The employee is an expat from Fiji.
The associations’ also claimed that a new bachelor and advanced diploma programmes were adopted without going through the right channels. Also amongst staff’s allegations against the VC was the copy and paste of Fiji National University policies. They further asserted that the many of these policies did not go through proper discussion with wider community of the university but have already been adopted. The SINU associations’ have also made strong allegations that there was financial mismanagement and abuse of procurement processes. Under this claim, the associations’ stated that there were no proper tender for printing work which was carried out in Fiji by a company that was not even in the list of printing companies there. Also, the associations’ further stated that advertisement of SINU vacancies were carried only in one newspaper in Fiji and there was also nothing in the local newspapers here. Besides making those allegations, the associations had also produced documents as evidences – regarding payments that were made to those that carried out the work—all from Fiji.
Meanwhile commenting on the allegations, Dr Togamana stated yesterday that he had 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 VC the opportunity to respond to the allegations, especially the new ones. He also affirmed that the VC was 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.