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Labor strike called by organized lecturers disrupt operations in several universities | Addis Zeybe

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The labor strike called to be held starting from Dec 5, 2022, by an organized group called Ethiopian Universities Lecturers and Technical Assistants has resulted in halted and disrupted operations in several Ethiopian universities, Addis Zeybe learned. 

The group, Ethiopian Universities Lecturers and Technical Assistants, which is said to comprise more than 40 thousand university staff from all over the nation, issued a letter on Nov 23 stating that university lecturers will not be on duty from Dec 5 until their demands are fulfilled and answered.

The group mainly requested wage increases for university lecturers along with other benefits and rights which the teachers believed had been deprived of, unlike employees of government development institutions. 

As the strike went on to the second day Addis Zeybe learned that Arba Minch, Assosa, and Gondar universities have completely stopped teaching while usual academic operations and activities had been disrupted in Hawassa, Bahir Dar, and other unspecified universities. 

Four teachers of Arba Minch University of which two of them are members of the university’s teachers’ association were arrested and released later in connection with the strike. Another lecturer from the journalism department of Metu University is also reported to be detained. 

Sources who prefer to speak anonymously and claim to be organizers of the strike told Addis Zeybe that the job strike will continue until all their demands are addressed by the government.

“Government officials are trying to politicize our demands. Some members of university staff who are close to administration officials are getting support to help stop the job strike. The lasting solution is only discussing with our representatives, not otherwise.”

According to the organizers, some individuals in university administerial positions are threatening and warning lecturers to stop their strike and return back to their duty.

One of the organizers said, “Our analysis of the first days of the strike shows it has been successful around 70 percent. We are also communicating with each other and our strike will continue in a managed way further. The situation may last for months if our demands are not answered”.

Last week, Befikadu Zeleke (Ph.D.), President of the Ethiopian University Lecturers and Technical Assistants Association told Addis Zeybe that both the issued letter by the group and the announced strike were not acknowledged by the association.

“Although the questions raised by the teachers are correct, due to the fact that the country has been in a conflict for the past two years and for other reasons, the expected solutions may be delayed. But now the issues are being monitored with the relevant bodies and they will be solved in an unspecified long or short term. It is necessary to be patient,” Said Befikadu Zeleke.

The letter, publicized to call the strike by the Ethiopian Universities Lecturers and Technical Assistants, discussed the meager wages university lecturers are earning in contrast with the sharp rise in inflation and cost of living. It is highlighted in the letter that the redundant complaints addressed to the concerned bodies, against the JEG salary scale revision implemented five years ago which they say excluded university teachers were unheeded. 

“Though we tried to resolve our problems in a peaceful way through our representatives in the university teachers’ association, we couldn’t be presented with any solution. Hence, we are forced to go on strike from Dec 5, 2022, until an undefined period of time,” reads the letter. 

The major demands, among others, mentioned by the strike organizers to be fulfilled are increments in salary and supplementary services; tax-free house rental relative to the current condition; considerations in the Ph.D. research budget, and over-time payments; and resumption of the discontinued promotion scheme.

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