Health sciences university finally reaches wage agreement with striking workers
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Pretoria - The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University management will be crossing its fingers for calm to be restored to its campus today after having finally reached an agreement with striking workers.
The university had been forced to suspend its academic activities for three weeks due to striking workers aligned to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) demanding a 5% salary increase among other demands.
The deadlock remained as the university management only offered striking workers a 4% increase, stating that it had to dig very deep into its resources to move its offer from the initial proposal of 3.5%.
An offer which workers and the leadership of the union said they could not accept taking into consideration the increase in the cost of living and the lack of additional benefits at the university in comparison to other institutions.
Over the weekend university spokesperson Dr Eric Pule said they had finally managed to reach an agreement with workers for a 4.5% salary increase, with workers agreeing to return to work as of today.
Pule said even though they had hoped to reopen on Friday they found that students had taken up their grievances with the university by also blocking the gates.
“On Friday we found that students had blocked the gates as they alleged they had submitted a memorandum following meetings by the student body that we had failed to respond to.
“The executive management and senate has since drafted a response that is currently being circulated to students and we hope that we are able to agree to the terms and ensure we reopen our campuses and resume the academic programme.”
According to Pule, some of the students’ grievances included issues regarding the online teaching, learning and assessment at the university, for students to be accommodated on campus in terms of residences and a call for a full book allowance.
Gladys Malema, Nehawu general-secretary at the university, confirmed that they had come to an agreement with the institution’s management on the percentage of the salary increase but that they were still awaiting the final offer.
This as Malema said their strike was not only about the salary increase, but the issue of workers’ benefits and other allowances.
“We ceased our shutdown of the university on Thursday as we’ve received positive feedback from the management regarding most of our demands and only a few demands are outstanding.
“So as it stands we have a partial agreement but we’re awaiting the last response and should that be positive we see no reason to disrupt the academic calendar of the university any further.”