EDUCATION Minister Michael Kaingu has warned that striking lecturers at the University of Zambia risk being fired if they do not resume work.
Dr Kaingu said the lecturers should not hold the Government to ransom by refusing to resume work even after being paid part of what they were demanding.
The lecturers started their go-slow on Tuesday last week demanding payment of outstanding excess teaching load allowance, gratuity and benefits for those that have retired.
However, the Government started paying the excess teaching load allowance yesterday although the tutors had insisted that they would only resume work once their demands were met in full.
Dr Kaingu said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that the Government would be forced to instruct management at UNZA to revoke the appointments of the striking lecturers.
“My appeal is that they should go back for work,” Dr Kaingu said. “We cannot hold each other to ransom. Today it is them demanding something from us, but tomorrow it will be us demanding something from them.
“If they don’t want to go back for work, then we will instruct the management to invoke some instruments,” Dr Kaingu said.
The minister said the Government had paid out the excess teaching load allowance to almost every entitled lecturer and hoped that the tutors would resume work while negotiating with the Government.
“We cannot have a situation where every difference is resolved through a strike or a go-slow,” Dr Kaingu said.
However, UNZALRU president Eusten Chiputa said threats would not help to resolve the problem at UNZA because sacking the lecturers would not bring money that the tutors were asking for.
“In 1994, the entire UNZA staff was fired. By the time the Government was reversing the decision, many of them had found jobs abroad, so I think it was the Government that lost,” Dr Chiputa said.
He said Dr Kaingu was free to instruct the management at the university to sack the lecturers as long as he was following the law.
Dr Chiputa, however, said that the go-slow had elapsed because the teaching had come to an end, but warned that it could result into withholding of examination results if the demands were not met.