File picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The Vice-Chancellor of the Durban University of Technology, Dr Isaac Machi, on Tuesday, expressed concern that the academic programme could be further derailed after representatives of workers unions failed to pitch up for a meeting to sign a wage agreement.

On Friday, three workers' unions led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) reached an agreement with the DUT to bring a protracted strike of eight weeks to an end.

Both parties agreed on a salary increase of seven percent across the board including a R200 housing allowance. The university also agreed to waive 13 days of the strike and give staff members salary advances up to the amount of R12,000 payable over eight months to help them deal with the financial repercussions of the strike.

The other issues, including, the once-off bonus and the issue of docking of the salaries by the university during the strike will be referred to Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) as well as the Labour Court.

But despite the unions accepting the offer over the weekend, the signing of the agreement could not take place either on Monday or Tuesday as representatives did not pitch. 

Machi said that resolving this matter took a lot of sacrifice and commitment of several stakeholders and that students suffered as the university had to postpone the academic programme, which is the main purpose of its existence.

"On Friday, 9 March 2018,  DUT management learnt that the Unions had accepted the offer but the signing could not take place either because labour representatives did not avail themselves to sign. The commissioners of the CCMA then advised all parties to meet on Monday, 12 March 2018 at 15h00 to sign.

"DUT Management presented itself for the planned meeting, however, the three unions did not arrive. The parties were once again invited to the CCMA to sign the agreement on Tuesday, 13 March 2018 at 12h00. Management attended the CCMA, but once again the three unions did not attend. To date, the agreement has not been signed and this could derail the process of implementing its various elements."

Machi said that the DUT management was still hopeful that this agreement can be signed latest Wednesday, 14 March 2018, in order not to compromise staff salaries in the March salary run. 

African News Agency/ANA