The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) has reportedly retrenched over 60 non-academic staff members.
The affected employees told CITE they were called by the human resources office on May 30, and handed letters of retrenchment notifying them that May 31 would be their last day at work.
The move comes after the university called for voluntary retrenchment and early retirement in March 2022 in a bid to create “a lean, efficient, fit-for-purpose staff”.
Due to low uptake of the offer, the university said “as a last resort” they had to lay off some staff members.
The affected staffers however accused the university management of unfairly dismissing them.
“This really came as a shock to us. The manner in which this whole process was conducted is not fair. How do you ambush people and tell them they are losing their jobs in 24 hours? We are family people, with lots of responsibilities. Some of us even have loans, taken as recently as last month. Why would the institution approve those loans without warning us of such upcoming situations? What they are doing to us is inhumane!” one of the employees said.
The employees stated that they were not engaged to discuss their benefits and exit packages and when they inquired, they were not given any answers because the authorities who were supposed to address them were not at work.
“From what we know, people are engaged prior, and given some time to prepare themselves for the retrenchment. There are conversations that need to be held to discuss issues on benefits and exit packages but none of that was done. We don’t even know if we will get our benefits soon, if we will be paid in USD or local currency. We want to know about our medical aid, our funeral plans among other expenses,” another employee said.
“The Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and the deputy are not at work. We are stuck. There is no one to address our concerns. We don’t know if they took days off on purpose to avoid addressing us. As it is they left a junior person to serve us the letters and that person doesn’t have answers regarding to the benefits.”
The employees further alleged that they feel the retrenchment was based on nepotism and witch-hunting.
“There are a lot of things that are not clear about this exercise. They (institution) have recruited a lot of people, even shuffled some prior to the exercise. If they are retrenching why are they hiring more people than they are letting go? It’s like they are getting rid of us so they can create the same posts and more for their recruits,” they said.
“We feel this was an unfair exercise. They targeted the non-academic departments. If this was a genuine retrenchment it should have affected the institution as a whole. We feel unfairly treated.”
Another employee said he was injured while on duty and lost a limb and had approached the institution to get an artificial one but before getting a response they were served with a retrenchment letter.
“I was injured while on duty. I have served this institution for a very long time and I believed that as part of appreciation of my service, they would consider my plea to get assistance. Instead of getting a response I got a letter of retrenchment. Where would I work now in this state? Will I ever be helped as I’m supposed to?” the employee said.
In a letter to the affected staffers, NUST stated that the laying off was in accordance with the provisions of the Labour Act.
“Please be advised that you shall be laid off accordingly, and your last day at work shall be 31 May 2023. You shall be entitled to service pay as enshrined in Section 12 C (2) of the Labour Act, cash in lieu of leave, and pension benefits as per the relevant regulations. In addition to that, you shall be entitled to three (3) months’ notice pay,” the letter read.
“Payment of your package shall be expedited and paid out in the shortest possible time. I would like to thank you for the service you rendered to the University, and wish you the best in your future endeavours.”