Tuks unions threaten to withdraw members if suspension of EFF students is lifted

2016-03-07 18:10
(Wim Pretorius, News24)

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

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Pretoria - Trade unions Solidarity and the University of Pretoria Workers Organisation (UPWO) have threatened to withdraw their members if the suspensions of four EFF students are lifted.

Johan Botha, deputy general secretary of the professional industry at Solidarity, said that UP management was promoting a culture of impunity and violence by allowing the suspended students to return to campus.

"It is becoming increasingly simple to get your own way through violence. Such a culture of impunity allows violence and disruptions to prevail instead of constructive dialogue and negotiation," said Botha.

"University management has given an undertaking to ensure the safety of our members on campus. However, due to the decision to allow violent students back on campus, staff is once again being exposed to potentially unsafe working conditions."

University of Pretoria spokesperson Anna-Retha Bouwer said the suspensions had not been lifted.

"The suspended students have been allowed to return to their classes while the disciplinary process is concluded. The suspensions have not been lifted. Initially they could not enter campus, but now they will be able to do so," she said.

Botha said the two unions would advise their members not to go to work should the suspended students take part in or incite any further violent actions on campus and, by doing so, compromise the safety of their members.

"Should we feel as unions that the employer has failed to provide a safe working environment, we will advise our members not to go to work," he said.

Last month, there were clashes at the institution when students demanded a change in the language policy.

Twenty-seven people were arrested for public violence and they appeared in court. Charges against three of them were dropped, leaving 24 students to stand trial. Their case was postponed to April 7. The university was closed for a week due to the protests.

The trade unions have demanded that management should ensure the long-term safety of their members. A meeting was held over the weekend where the university and student leaders signed a pledge of peaceful engagement.

Bouwer said during the meeting, an agreement was reached to peacefully engage in a manner that respected one another, regardless of differences. 

"Representatives from all student groups signed a pledge to mutual peaceful engagement, which included an apology for the recent violent events and the impact these have had on the university’s reputation," she said. 

"They also undertook to refrain from any further acts of violence and uphold the reputation of the university. Discussions on a more inclusive institutional culture and language policy will continue.  A clear plan with timelines for further engagement on transformation was agreed to by all."

Read more on:    university of pretoria  |  solidarity  |  eff  |  pretoria  |  university protests

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