Rhodes University and Nupsaw's negotiations over union rights reach a deadlock

Published Aug 18, 2021


By Bianca Mclean

RHODES University management and the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) are locked in a stand-off over the union's demands to be given organisational rights.

Nearly four months ago, on April 29, Nupsaw approached the university seeking organisational rights. This included the right to organise and recruit members, to hold meetings on campus, and for the university to debit subscription fees from their members.

However, according to the university’s claims records the majority of the staff members on the list submitted by Nupsaw were members of another union, the South African Liberated Public-Sector Workers Union (SALIPSWU). The university found that there was no evidence as per section 21(2)(b) of the Labour Relations Act of the facts relied upon to demonstrate that Nupsaw was a representative union or that staff had joined Nupsaw.

Last week, negotiations reached a deadlock and Nupsaw embarked on a strike.

When the University received notice from Nupsaw regarding their intention to embark on industrial action, in response to the notice the university issued a communication informing staff that should they participate in the strike it would be on the basis of the “no work no pay” rule.

Rhodes University has issued a cease and desist letter to Nupsaw and provincial leader, Lerato Thethe for unlawful picketing on Rhodes University's campus. But the union said it would be continuing with the protest action on campus.

The protests have impacted on the daily lives of students as the noise prevents them from concentrating and focusing in lectures. Some students vented their frustration about the protests disruptions on social media.

* Video by Bianca Mclean