Unions blame each other for university woes

Academic and non-teaching staff unions at the University of Mauritius, the country’s biggest higher education institution, have expressed their mutual distrust in interviews with L’Express of Port Louis, which reported that the university was in chaos.

L’Express said the university management was in disarray, and there were disputes and disagreements between various groups within the university and outside interference – as well as anti-corruption investigations.

Interviewed in L’Express, Kavi Khedo, president of the University of Mauritius Academic Staff Union, said: “It’s a shame. For many bad reasons University of Mauritius is on the front pages. That does nothing for its reputation.”

“Several groups and several agendas” were confronting one another on campus. “Even at management level, there are conflicts and lack of coherence in decision-making,” said Khedo.

He claimed it was mostly the union representing non-teaching staff that was causing the problem. “They have declared war on the vice-chancellor. They 'want her head'. For now, there is no progress; the vice-chancellor is too busy to defend herself and take a stand.

“We want it to stop because we want to go forward and start the strategic plan which no-one talks about anymore,” said Khedo, who added that he was prepared to work with non-teaching staff for the good of the university.

L’Express asked Iqbal Sookhroo, head of the University of Mauritius Non-Academic Staff Union, if it was true that the union was ‘after the head’ of the Vice-chancellor Romeela Mohee. “Yes! Every day there is growing discontent among the non-academic staff. Last year the vice-chancellor took a series of decisions which were not good for us,” he claimed.

Sookhroo gave as an example an attempt to reduce the lunch hour, reported L’Express. He also claimed: “There is a considerable disparity between the academic employees and us – in every respect.”

The lecturers had a flexible timetable to allow them to carry out research, but “many of them use this time to work elsewhere, without paying anything of what they earn to University of Mauritius. It’s an enormous loss of income,” he said.

These kinds of ‘injustice’ created frustration among union members who claimed their rights were not respected. They were calling for a mediator and planning a demonstration in support of their rights.

Concerning external interference in the university’s management, L’Express cited cases of staff avoiding transfers to other departments by asking powerful allies to intervene on their behalf. Mohee had intervened and ordered that precise rules should be drawn up for all transfers, and had just been summoned to the education ministry over the matter.

The cases of three University of Mauritius lecturers who were working in other higher education institutions without authorisation were being investigated by the anti-corruption commission, reported L’Express. According to management, at least 50 were suspected of this activity.

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