UP staff distance themselves from unions

2016-03-09 07:43
(Wim Pretorius, News24)

(Wim Pretorius, News24)

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Pretoria - Academic staff at the University of Pretoria have distanced themselves from threats of a possible withdrawal by trade movement Solidarity and the University of Pretoria Workers' Organisation (UPWO).

The two unions threatened to withdraw their members if the suspensions of four EFF students were lifted. They accused the UP management of promoting a culture of impunity and violence by allowing the suspended students to return to campus.

At least 50 lecturers have however distanced themselves from the statements and threats.

“We, the undersigned members of academic staff at the University of Pretoria, applaud our university’s decision to allow those students who have been suspended for their involvement in the recent student protests to return to campus and resume their studies pending resolution of their disciplinary hearings,” the staff members said in a statement.

“We believe the decision reflects both the constitutional right of every student to have access to higher education and the fundamental principle that anyone accused of an offence is innocent until proven guilty.”

Culture of impunity

On Monday, the unions said the decision to let the students to return made it increasingly simple for people to get their way through violence. They said a culture of impunity allowed violence and disruptions to prevail instead of constructive dialogue and negotiation.

The two unions who represent at least 1 000 members at the institution said they 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.

The academic staff members held a different view and applauded the institution for taking the decision. They condemned the stance taken by UPWO and Solidarity and distanced themselves from it.

“The agreement reached on Saturday 5 March between the university and student organisations in terms of which the suspended students are allowed back on campus includes a broader commitment from all to the continuation of teaching and learning. We fully support this commitment. Although we condemn any form of violence or intimidation on campus or elsewhere, we as undersigned academic staff do not now and never did perceive our students as a threat to our personal safety,” the group said.

“On the contrary, in many respects we stand in solidarity with all our students in their exercise of their right to peaceful protest. We also believe that an academic’s first concern should always be to ensure access for students to the education to which they have a right."

Read more on:    university of pretoria  |  pretoria  |  education  |  university protests  |  labour

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