FUTA to strike to ‘safeguard state universities’

By Mirudhula Thambiah

The Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA) has decided to resort to stern trade union action to safeguard State universities, beginning with an island-wide strike from April 26.

A statement issued by the association said it has decided to resume trade union action because of the lack of interest on the part of the Government to work with the university academic community to develop a higher education policy.

FUTA demands the Government to increase spending on education that will reach 6% of GDP within the next two years, suspend all existing higher education reform processes until a proper consultative process involving all stakeholders including the public has taken place, and improve physical and human resources of the State-funded university system.

Following the agreement between the FUTA and the Ministry of Finance at the time of the suspension of the trade union action on July 21, 2011, there have been a plethora of meetings with the Salaries and Cadre Commission, and the Ministry of Finance, towards the fulfillment of the rest of the FUTA demands, as outlined in its interim proposal handed over to the Ministry of Higher Education on July 7, 2011.

However, FUTA claims that none of the demands have been met. The association states that one of the difficulties faced by State universities in recruiting and retaining high quality academic staff is the poor financial incentives offered by the State universities.

FUTA has also decided to appoint a committee comprising of senior academics to look into matters related to the enhancement of the quality of university teachers.

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