Pretoria - Calm and stability returned to the University of Pretoria (UP) as the university management and protesting workers have finally signed an agreement to put to bed their two-week-long deadlock.
University spokesperson Rikus Delport said the university management and the Academic and Professional Staff Association of South Africa (APSA) had finally reached an agreement to bring the strike action which started on February 9 to an end with immediate effect.
Delport said the strike had resulted from an impasse on various issues relating to the conditions of employment of insourced staff in security and food services.
He said while much work still needed to be done to ensure long-term solutions, the university remained confident that any impasse could be resolved through constructive engagement and without putting the long-term sustainability of the university at risk.
"We will continue to work with organised labour in an environment of mutual respect to address the issues it raises."
The union concurred that the strike action had officially been called off and a number of issues were resolved as per the agreement.
According to the agreement, the university committed itself to embark on a process of updating job descriptions and conducting job grading for all jobs and to prioritise the departments with employees that joined the institution through insourcing.
The university also undertook to ensure this process would be conducted by external experts and be finalised within a period of six months.
Furthermore, it was agreed that recess leave would no longer be applicable for all food services staff with the university further agreeing to ensure that no one group of employees would be favoured in relation to the period during which leave was to be taken.
Staff would also be allowed to accumulate up to five hours overtime per week, with the time to be converted into time off in lieu of overtime worked for leave, and extra hours to be paid out at the end of the year.
As the union had been decrying how insourced workers had been forced to work up to 80 hours per week, the new agreement has ensured that staff members who worked for guest groups exceeding the normal working hours of 40 hours and 80 hours per two weeks would be eligible to be paid overtime in line with the university's working hours and overtime policy.
Regarding leave days, the agreement indicated all employees within the food services department would have official leave, with no one to get gratuity leave going forward.
In explaining how the gratuity leave came about the agreement detailed that gratuity leave had actually been given to staff members that were appointed before 2016 as they did not have official leave days.
"They (staff) could accumulate six days per year to a maximum of 90 days. This was to ameliorate the fact that they did not have official leave," read the agreement.
"Management will ensure that none of the employees that went on strike and including the leaders of APSA will be visited with any form of victimisation and or discrimination for having participated in the strike."
Both parties signed the agreement this morning with workers to officially return to work today.