UP open day, business as usual amid threats of protest

2017-05-20 10:35
Nehawu protest at UP. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

Nehawu protest at UP. (Alex Mitchley, News24)

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Pretoria - The University of Pretoria (UP) on Friday afternoon obtained a court interdict against the National Health and Allied Workers Union [Nehawu] from disrupting their open day after Nehawu members vowed to shut the university down on Saturday morning.

It has been business as usual at the UP open day, as members from Nehawu have yet to be seen.

Ntsako Nombelani , Nehawu's national organiser for higher education told News24 that UP got a court interdict against the Nehawu protest, saying one of the stipulations of the interdict is that they may not come within 50m of the university grounds.

He said that Nehawu members would be meeting to map a way forward in their protest for a 13th cheque, 8% salary increase and better medical aid.

UP spokesperson Candice Jooste confirmed that an interdict was obtain against Nehawu.

On Friday, Nehawu members picketed outside the main gates of UP.

Split

At some stage during the morning, the Nehawu members split into two groups, while the one group demonstrated peacefully, other members tried to gain entry to the University's campus, where they were met by police who retaliated with teargas and stun grenades.

Some Nehawu members, however, managed to get through while others retreated and threw rocks and bricks at the police.

The university said they had broken through a fence to gain entry. 

However, News24 saw protesters enter through an open gate where construction was taking place.

UP confirmed that there was only one instance where protesters tried to get onto the campus.

The clash between demonstrators and police was short-lived as the regional leadership calmed the situation and the other protesters re-joined those who were dancing and singing peacefully at the university's front gate.

During the initial clash, three demonstrators were arrested and have yet to be released despite negotiations between the union and the university to have them released.

No injuries were reported, but several protesters were affected by teargas.

Demands 

UP said classes continued as usual and that they would not permit any disruptions to the academic programme.   

University spokesperson, Candice Jooste, said salary negotiations reached a deadlock after the union refused the university's offer of a 7% general salary increase effective from March 1, 2017 as well as an additional R3 000 gratuity payment.

"The matter was then referred to the CCMA, which issued a certificate of non-resolution, which permits the union to embark on a protected strike," said Jooste.

"The university believes the offer is reasonable given the current economic conditions and that employees will be earning above the industry average. However, we will not compromise our own financial sustainability. 

The university respects workers' right to protest, and appeals to them to do so within the ambit of the law."

Read more on:    nehawu  |  pretoria

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