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Showdown At UniFiji Looms About Clock­-in, Clock-out Policy

Showdown At UniFiji Looms About Clock­-in, Clock-out Policy
September 11
12:36 2018

A showdown looms as academic staff hun­ker down for a pro­tracted battle against Uni­versity of Fiji management over the controversial clock­-in and clock-out policy.

In a show of defiance, aca­demics including those at very senior levels, are join­ing the Staff Association of the University of Fiji (SAUF) in big numbers as the dispute reaches a critical stage.

Anil Tikaram, the univer­sity council chair, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Acting Vice- Chancellor (for a month), texted that he was in a meet­ing. Questions were emailed to him and on-leave Acting Vice-Chancellor Narendra Reddy.

Mr Reddy said last night he was in a meeting and would respond today.

Senior academic and junior staff have expressed anger with the management for allegedly intimidating and threatening junior staff with pay cuts and termination of employment if they do not follow the administrative directive.

They were told they must clock in and clock out daily at the Saweni Campus.

A staff member who did not wish to be named alleged that he was personally intimidated. He claimed he and several of his colleagues were threatened with terminations if they did not follow the directive. Another alleged that she clocked in and out as a result only of intimidation and was looking for jobs elsewhere due to the negative atmosphere that prevailed at the campus.

Senior academics have lodged a grievance with the Acting Vice-Chancellor Mr Reddy personally and through the association yesterday. It is understood that Emosi Fong, the president of the association, has written to Mr Reddy seeking a meeting as a matter of urgency in regards to the grievances.

The grievances arise out of the academics’ concern that the clock in clock out directive was a breach of their employment contracts which specified their hours of work.

The contracts were not varied and represented an agreement between the employer and employees. Any change in the contract should be by negotiation with the employee, they claim.

The grievances are also about the lack of transparency in the decision to implement a clock in clock out directive. Any new policies can be implemented only by a University Council decision and that decision has not yet been obtained, academics claim. Senior academic staff say that the council was being used to rubber-stamp decisions made by senior management against the University of Fiji Decree.

They state that the position of Anil Tikaram as Chair of Council, Pro-Chancellor and Acting Vice Chancellor for a month while Mr Reddy was on annual leave made the situation worse as the staff had no one to appeal to when the Human Resources Manager implemented his clock in clock out directive without lawful authority. They claim Mr Tikaram engaged in a conflict of interest when he endorsed this directive without council approval.

The directive, they claim, should be decided by the University Senate which meets on Friday because it impacts on academic contracts. But they add that an attempt has been made to bypass this august body and have the directive endorsed by a Council Committee.

The academic staff have requested SAUF to represent them in this dispute and to take the matter further under the Employment Relations Promulgation Act (ERP) if it is not resolved immediately. They say that productivity is being affected by the kind of atmosphere that prevails at the university.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa



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