Council chair hits back at associations - Solomon Star News

Council chair hits back at associations

01 July 2020
Dr. Ganeshwar Chand.



CHAIRMAN of the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) Council says demands by staff to remove vice-chancellor Dr. Ganesh Chand are not procedural.

Dr. Culwick Togamana, who is also the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Disaster Management, was responding to a seven-day ultimatum SINU’s staff and lecturers have given him to remove Chand.

They accused Chand of giving away jobs at SINU that can be easily taken up by locals to his wantoks/relatives from Fiji.

They also accused Chand of giving permission for SINU’s IT staff to check on emails of certain staff, as well as other management issues.

But in a statement, Togamana said:

“It is with deep regret that the two associations choose to conduct a media court-marshal of the vice-chancellor in the public domain rather than follow the university grievance policy and procedure approved by the Council.

“The public would recall that the associations had in 2019 also accused the vice-chancellor with the same allegations. 

“The vice-chancellor had responded to the associations’ allegations and asked them to provide the relevant evidence to justify their allegations. 

“None was forthcoming until 24th June 2020. 

“In their letter on that date, while presenting what evidence they have, they also demanded the chair of the council to terminate the vice-chancellor and failing that, the combined associations’ members will withdraw their services from the University.”

Togamana said he also responded to their call on 25th June 2020, confirming the receipt of the combined Associations letter and that given some new allegations brought up in the letter of 24th June 2020, to give the vice-chancellor the opportunity to respond to the allegations, especially the new ones. 

He added he also affirmed that the vice-chancellor is still overseas and upon his return and his response to the allegations, the University Council will be in a better position to consider the associations’ request.

The chairman said the two associations responded to his letter on 29th June 2020, further demanding the termination of the vice-chancellor with the ultimatum of withdrawing of services by Friday 3rd July 2020.

“In view of this new wave of demands and ultimatums, the council had sought the legality of the two associations from the Registrar General’s Office for compliance to the Trade Unions Act, with the question of whether they are registered unions.”

He added the Registrar General’s Office informed Council by a letter of confirmation, that they have no record of the two associations as registered unions.

Togamana said yesterday, he wrote to the two associations advising them of the letter of confirmation from the Registrar General’s Office and asking them to provide their ‘Certificates of Registration’ if they disagreed with the Registrar General’s Office letter of confirmation.

“In the letter, I also indicated that if they fail to prove their legal status as unions representing the SINU staff by Thursday 2nd July 2020, the university will seriously consider withdrawing recognition of the two associations.

“It is common knowledge now at SINU that there are very serious matters of fraud, abuse of process and compliance that the SINU management is uncovering through the leadership of the vice-chancellor, through a series of investigations and internal audits. 

“When one looks at these and the demands by the two associations who are being advised by those implicated in these internal audits, one call into question the genuineness of these demands and ultimatums,” Togamana said

He stated that the two associations are acting in bad faith by using militaristic methods to demand the removal of the vice-chancellor, instead of following the grievance policy of the University to deal with matters of this nature.