Johannesburg - Chaos erupted at Wits university as students seeking to complete their registrations for the 2018 academic year found themselves highly frustrated on Friday afternoon as irate protesting workers barred them from doing so.
About 1500 striking National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) members, joined by other unions, descended on Senate House carrying brooms, mops and sticks demanding that all offices be shut down.
The members who have been protesting since Tuesday, threw rubbish on the floor and removed posters from walls, threatening to deal with those who dared to continue working.
According to Tumisho Madihlaba, Nehawu's acting branch secretary, the workers, who include cleaners and academics, previously tabled a list of demands and grievances before the university's management but have had no joy.
"Some of our demands include that all workers within a low salary band be moved to mid point. Furthermore, our initial demand was for a 15% salary hike but instead management took it all the way to 6.8%. We are strongly opposed to this," Madihlaba said, adding they were prepared to settle for 12%.
He further said workers want the "long service" incentives discontinued by management to be reinstated.
Madihlaba highlighted that Wits had a history of undermining workers and students.
Addressing workers, he said they would not go anywhere until Wits chancellor Adam Habib ceded to their demands.
By lunchtime, despondent students milled around campus hoping offices would be opened while striking union members sang struggle songs.
Some of the staff members who had reported for duty packed up for the day and left the campus.
Union leaders meanwhile engaged in talks with the university's management upstairs.
One student could be seen crying, saying it was her last day to register while another said she urgently needed to process her application at the fees office.
There's also now a backlog in the number of registrations that need to be processed before classes kick off in the coming weeks.
Workers have vowed to continue with the protests throughout the weekend.