UNISA staff members protest on Preller Street near the main campus.     Jacques Naude  African News Agency (ANA)
UNISA staff members protest on Preller Street near the main campus. Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

Unisa staff barricade campuses to demand a wage hike

By GOITSEMANG TLHABYE Time of article published Jan 31, 2020

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Pretoria - Registration and academic activities will not resume at Unisa until management yields to the demand by workers for a salary increase, workers say.

Workers affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers (Nehawu) and the Academic and Professional Staff Association at the university were at the unversity’s campuses yesterday to ensure that no one entered.

Helen Dladla, a representative of association, said they had to mobilise for the strike because the employer was still not willing to give the workers what had been negotiated. Dladla said Unisa put a 6% offer on the table across the board, which they were not happy about. He said they took the matter to the CCMA.

She said the resolution body gave the unions a certificate to strike. “As organised labour, we are not retreating from our 8% demand. The employer was able to give management bonuses and got tenders with the university.”

Ntsako Nombelani, Nehawu’s national organiser for higher education, said they were optimistic when they took their matter to the CCMA on January 16, as management had offered an improved 6.2%.

Nombelani said unfortunately the university had recently backtracked on its initial offer of 6%, which they viewed as negotiating in bad faith.

“It is for this reason that workers instructed the unions to seek a certificate of non-resolution and go on strike. It is unfortunate that since the strike action started last Friday, all campuses have been closed.

“It’s not an ideal situation as it compromises the smooth registration process and learning, as this institution is an island of hope in a desert of misery for many black children.”

He said they were yet to meet with the university management. They were called to meet with management yesterday afternoon.

Nombelani said they would be calling for a 9% increase.

Lusani Netshitomboni, the acting director for communications at Unisa, said that at the moment a lot of numbers were being thrown around, but all they could say was that negotiations were still ongoing even though the workers were striking and blocking access to their campuses.

Netshitomboni said although it was unfortunate that their campuses had to be closed, they were encouraging students to continue to make use of the online system to register. “Despite what is going on, it is encouraging to see that the number of students registering online has picked up slightly. We urge others to do the same.”

He said registrations would be open until tomorrow.

Pretoria News

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