WATCH: Strike action by Nehawu over salary increase continues at health sciences university
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Pretoria - The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) is facing losing even more time off their academic calendar as strike action by workers affiliated to the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) continues for a second week.
The university management and Nehawu reached a deadlock last week over salary increases which they have allegedly been negotiating since February.
Tshifhiwa Mulaudzi, chairperson of the Nehawu university branch, said workers were prepared to continue with the strike action for as long as it was necessary for the university management to start taking workers demands and needs seriously.
Mulaudzi said they were demanding a 6% salary increase or ultimately 5% owing to the fact that the average salary increases at the university for the past four years had roughly been around 7.5%.
He said workers demands were reasonable and had taken into consideration the harsh economic conditions the country and the university were going through as well as the budget that had to be made to combat Covid-19 at the university.
“We wrote to the vice-chancellor rejecting the 4% increase offered by the university management and stand by the demand for 6% hoping to end at the minimum average of 5% as we have moved all the way down from 15%.”
According to Nehawu the university only initially offered workers a 1% increase and only recently changed its tune to 4%, which according to workers was not enough to combat the ever-increasing cost of living.
For its part, the university said the strike action by the union was unofficial and did not take into account the financial constraints experienced by the university.
Dr Eric Pule, the university spokesperson said the university’s initial offer to workers was for a 3.5% salary increase, which had later been boosted to 4%.
An increase which Pule said the university had to dig deeper for looking into its current financial situation to obtain.
He alleged the union initially demanded a 10% increase something which he said the university like many other institutions across the country could not afford.
Despite the deadlock, Pule said the university management would be engaging the union later today to engage on what the university could afford.
He said a big concern with a protracted strike action was that the university faced losing even more time off the academic calendar which had already been shrunk due to the Covid-19 pandemic.