MADAGASCAR: Union threatens strike if terms not met

University presidents have fixed mid-April for the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year, which has been delayed by a strike by the lecturers' and researchers' union SECES, that ended in January. But with the resignation of Madagascar's government, the wary union has let it be known that if its demands are not met, there will be no return to work, reported L'Express de Madagascar.

The presidents of five of the country's six universities met on 18 March, eight days after the government resigned, as the first stage of a plan to end the country's political crisis.

They conferred behind closed doors at the education ministry, in the presence of the former higher education minister, Athanase Tongavelo, who had negotiated the strike settlement with SECES in January.

An announcement after the meeting said most of the presidents agreed to start the new year in mid-April, although at the universities of Toamasina and Toliara last year's examinations had not yet been completed.

After the announcement SECES pointed out that, following the agreement ending its strike, the previous government had carried out its examination of the union's demands and it was waiting for the funds to be released, reported L'Express.

The "wary" union asserted it would stand firm and there would be no return to work if its claims were not satisfied, said L'Express.

It quoted a member of SECES who said: "It is the responsibility of the administration to decide a date for the new year. We are holding to what we agreed during the SECES congress in February.

"We will complete courses and start entrance exams, but if the conditions we are claiming - universities' operating budgets, student grants, teachers' and administrative workers' salaries - are not satisfied, even if the council of university presidents has decided a date, there will be no new university year."

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original report.