Durban University of Technology suspends classes

By Drum Digital
28 February 2013

The Durban University of Technology (DUT) has suspended classes following claims of intimidation and disruptions to lectures, the institution said on Thursday.

University spokesman Alan Khan said the strike started on Monday and had been peaceful at the start of the week.

He said striking staff members had "invaded" lectures and "threatened staff and students in the library.

"For the safety of staff and students a decision was taken to suspend the academic programme until Monday," said Khan.

Three unions -- the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) of South Africa, and the Tertiary Employees National Union of South Africa -- are demanding a 13 percent salary increase.

DUT is offering a six percent general wage increase and a 1.5 percent increase in benefits.

Khan said that almost 70 percent of the institution's income was spent on staff remuneration, which is higher than the average of 58 to 62 percent spent universities across the country.

The NTEU's chairman for DUT, Francois van Zyl, said the unions believed that the six percent offered by DUT was "unreasonable" given that the average increases at university of technologies in South Africa were between seven and 8.5 percent.

He said his union had not received any reports of intimidation and believed striking members had behaved in an exemplary manner.

Khan said the institution had about 2500 employees, while Van Zyl said that only 1300 of these were permanently employed.

Van Zyl said that between 500 and 600 staff members had taken part in the strike, while the university claimed only about 200 had participated.

Van Zyl said he believed that the unions would settle for nine percent if this was offered by management.

-Sapa

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