University of Fiji academics who have refused to clock-in and clock-out will not be punished.
The chair of the University Council, Pro-chancellor Anil Tikaram, who was present at the Senate meeting at Saweni campus last Friday, gave this undertaking.
It was not clear whether their directive is now defunct.
Under his watch as Acting Vice Chancellor for one month, while the Acting VC Narendra Reddy was on leave, the controversial clock-in and clock-out policy was extended to cover academics
The academics protested vehemently and referred their grievances to the union, the Staff Association of the University of Fiji.
At the meeting, some members of the Senate provided concrete evidence that intimidation and threats had been made against academics who had refused to register for the biometrics and the directive to clock-in and clock-out.
Mr Tikaram’s no punishment assurance was appreciated by members of the Senate, particularly the academics.
It was also acknowledged that there was no policy in place for clock in clock out by academics at the university and that it was a directive only.
The members of Senate asked on what basis such a directive could be issued as the appointment of the Pro-Chancellor Anil Tikaram as Acting Vice-Chancellor, while Acting Vice Chancellor Narendra Reddy was on official leave, was itself in question.
The Fiji Sun (Between the Lines) article on this point was highlighted by some Senate members at the meeting.
It was noted at the meeting that the union had received grievances from individual academics that the clock-in, clock-out directive was given without proper authority and breached their individual contracts.
Members said that the normal process for grievances should take its course.
However, a Dean’s Committee, as a sub-committee of Senate, was requested to consider the workload model for the university and to review the directive as part of its deliberations.
The Senate, the university’s highest academic authority discussed other issues of concern to them that had arisen over the past few months.
Under Section 28 of the University of Fiji Decree the Senate, among other powers, has the power to review the operations and workings of the university in line with its vision and mission and also has the power to express any opinion on matters of concern to it.
It is understood the Senate members made important decisions that are likely to partly restore the confidence of staff and students in the university.
For example, it was noted that the position of Deans of Schools could from now on only be occupied by academics with the status of associate professors and professors to provide appropriate leadership at the senior-most levels of university business.
This was a decision made at the council level many years ago, but was not faithfully implemented by the university administrators.
It is understood the University Senate meeting was useful in that views and concerns were freely exchanged.
This provided a positive step for reconciliation between academics and administration over a whole range of issues.
The university will now proceed towards selecting its new Vice-Chancellor.
It is believed that the Joint Senate and Council Committee will soon begin shortlisting applicants for the process of selection to begin. Edited by Losirene Lacanivalu