University of Pretoria striking workers await CCMA meeting to resolve wage deadlock

The University of Pretoria employees strike demanding 7% salary increase. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

The University of Pretoria employees strike demanding 7% salary increase. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 7, 2024


The National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) will be hedging their hopes for a resolution to the longstanding wage strike on the intervention of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Workers affiliated with Nehawu at UP have been on strike since February 15, demanding a 7% wage hike, however, the university has only offered a 4% wage increase as a result of financial constraints.

A burgeoning student debt, inability to increase fees as a result of restrictions placed by the Department of Higher Education and Training, and costs to related to keeping the university running amid the persistent load shedding in the country were among some of the reasons provided by the university as to its inability to offer workers above 4%.

The union has rubbished comments of the university not affording anything higher to the 13 000 affected workers and listed several demands that workers were demanding be met before it calls for an end to the strike, failing which the strike action would be intensified.

The demands include a 7% salary increase across the board; a 13th cheque; five days’ leave encashment; an extension of long-service bonus to include not only those with 20 years’ service, but also 10 and 15 years; and a once-off R7 000 bonus.

Tlou Matuba, UP Nehawu chairperson, said workers remained on the picket lines and were more grateful to have received support from the region.

Matuba said as it stood nothing had changed between the stance of the workers and that of the university management to date.

He said, however, a meeting had been scheduled for the weekend between the union leaders, university management and the presence of a commissioner from the CCMA.

“For now workers remain here on the picket line, but they are adamant that no demands met means that they will not return to work.”

Nehawu regional chairperson Ivan Ramogale expressed disappointment with the university management at UP, especially as he explained how the proposed offer made was far below the inflation, and even more so lover than that offered at other institutions despite the university being ranked 4th in the 2024 South African University rankings.

“Despite UNISA offering a 6.6%, Nelson Mandela University offering a 6.9%, and Wits offering a 6.4% salary increase, we are totally disappointed with the university management which has so far proposed a below inflation salary increase of 5.1%.”

“We shall not accept any below inflation salary increases as this will trap our membership in an abject socio economic crisis especially considering the 2023 food prices index is higher at 11%, with the Jan 2024 inflation being (5.3%), 2023 annualised CPI (6.0%),” Ramogale added.

The University of Pretoria was yet to confirm the scheduled meeting.

The Star