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Following three-month delay Unisa graduations off to good start

The entrance to the Unisa main campus. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

The entrance to the Unisa main campus. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 29, 2022

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Pretoria - Unisa has at long last been able to successfully host its first live graduations without a hitch following a three-month delay.

Yesterday, the university said that it had finally managed to host its 2022 autumn graduations which had to be postponed as a precautionary measure due to industrial action by employees affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

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Unisa said the graduations, which formed a very important and sacred ceremony for the institution, the students, their families and relatives, resumed on Monday and would continue until August 5.

The university said that the first round of graduations were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in Polokwane, followed by Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and East London.

Spokesperson Edgar Rathelele said the university was communicating directly with the affected students about their respective graduation dates.

“The university regards graduations as a tradition that has been kept for centuries throughout history. They represent the pinnacle and culmination of the hard work that students and academics have put in over the years.

“We take pride in this sacred tradition that seeks to honour, recognise and reward hard work, academic success, and excellence,” said principal and vice-chancellor Professor Puleng LenkaBula.

“For many of our students, these graduation ceremonies serve as the first-ever meaningful recognition, achievement, and the fulfilment of not only a lifelong dream, but the restoration of their sense of worth and indeed the reaffirmation of their humanity,” she said.

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LenkaBula added that the university wanted to extend its sincerest appreciation to the staff members whose hard work and dedication made it possible for the graduation ceremonies to resume following the repeated delays and postponements.

“We equally recognise and thank the affected students and other stakeholders for their patience and understanding given the inconvenience caused by the postponement of the graduations.

“We appeal to all stakeholders, especially staff members, to play their part in ensuring that the graduations are a resounding success and memorable for the graduating students and their loved ones.”

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The university attempted to host its first live graduation in March this year, however, the institution was forced to suspend two graduation ceremonies as a result of the protracted strike by workers affiliated with Nehawu over a salary dispute.

And even though consultations between the union and the university yielded slight progress on a number of issues, including the disputed salary increases, things remained hostile and it decided to suspend and terminate the employment services of five shop stewards aligned to the union.

As a result of the terminations, workers continued their protest demanding the reinstatement of the shop stewards.

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Nehawu national co-ordinator Ntsako Nombelani said that they had conceded for the university to resume the physical graduation ceremonies as some people were travelling as far as Limpopo, and Durban to finally realise the fruits of their labour.

Nombelani said despite this leeway, in principal the university and the union had still not reached an amicable solution on the way forward, despite several meetings between with university under the guidance of the CCMA.

He said even though the union had come with an improved offer of 4.2% this was still way below the annual inflation rate in the country, which was recorded at 5.9% as of April.

Pretoria News

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