UCT administrative and support staff go on wage strike but managers stay optimistic

UCT Employees Union announces strike action starting from Thursday. Photo: Ruairi Abrahams

UCT Employees Union announces strike action starting from Thursday. Photo: Ruairi Abrahams

Published Feb 10, 2024


Cape Town - The administrative and support staff at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have downed tools in strike action over failed wage negotiations with the institution’s management.

The administrative and support staff belonging to the UCT Employees Union have demanded a 1.5% wage raise for 2023 and 7.5% for 2024; the prompt release of performance rewards for the June 2022 to May 2023 cycle; the formation of a united bargaining forum; and addressing issues of bullying.

The union committee issued a notice on Tuesday that its executive had exhausted all avenues of a non-strike resolution.

“This decision aims to exert pressure for meaningful negotiations and commitments from the employer, insisting on the proper recognition and remuneration of our talents, knowledge and contributions, befitting a ‘world-class UCT’,” said the union’s president, Andrea Plos.

In response to the union’s demands, UCT interim vice-chancellor Daya Reddy said negotiations around the 2024 salary increase continued and were at an advanced stage.

“The UCT management is optimistic about a forthcoming agreement with Pass (Professional, Administrative Support and Service) unions, Detawu, Nehawu and UCT Employees Union considering the university’s financial situation and staff remuneration needs, despite delays in signing the agreement,” he said.

“The payment of performance awards is contingent on the conclusion of the salary negotiations for the current year. It is therefore not feasible at this stage to make any payments prior to an agreement being reached by both parties on the 2024 salary increase,“Reddy said.

The UCT Council had approved the policy addressing bullying in 2021. The policy underscores UCT’s commitment to creating, promoting, and maintaining a safe, welcoming and inclusive working, learning and research environment that is free from any form of harassment or bullying.

“As indicated earlier, the university has already begun work in this regard.

“This includes the merging of Pass negotiations into a single bargaining unit with effect from 2023.

“The next phase will be work around merging both the academic and Pass bargaining units.

“With regard to the 2023 UCT EU salary and non-salary demands, the union lodged a dispute on these demands with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The matter was not successfully resolved at the CCMA on November 24 last year.

“We will continue engaging around these and other issues raised by the UCT Employees Union as part of the continuing engagements with PASS unions.

“I reiterate that the UCT management remains committed to working towards the amicable resolution of issues raised,” Reddy said.