“We agreed, in coordination with the syndicate, to present each union separately from the Universities of Benghazi and Tripoli as representatives of East and West Libya for a single proposal,” said Salaheddin Sharif, a professor at the University of Benghazi’s Faculty of Science. “That is, to increase wages with slight differences in their value, to the government each university is affiliated with until we guarantee the increase for everyone.”
In September 2019, the syndicate organized, for the first time, a comprehensive strike despite the ongoing war in the Libyan capital. (See a related article, “A Professors’ Strike in Libya Reveals a Troubled University System.”)
“We were forced to hold a sit-in, despite the country’s instability, to emphasize the legitimacy of our demands and the importance of helping teachers keep performing their educational duties,” said Al-Sayeh.
“It was a long struggle, and a bitter one waged by the syndicate and its sub-unions,” he said.
The Fight Goes On
Sharif, the science professor at the University of Benghazi, does not believe that university professors’ problems have all been solved by the decision to increase wages.
“There are many difficulties that we still have to face,” he said, noting the destruction of many university buildings during the conflict and the weak budgets dedicated to rehabilitating the infrastructure, training teachers, and supporting researchers.
“We are trapped inside the country because of the lack of capabilities,” he said. “We do not have opportunities to travel for development and training because of the high cost and current limitations.”
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And some, like Al-Sayeh, of the General Syndicate, and Taher, who previously was head of Misurata University, are concerned that the raises will be delayed.
“Everything is possible,” said Taher. “But if it happens, we will have to escalate through strikes and sit-ins, and we might suspend work in all universities until our demand is answered.”