‘Bad faith’ talks for striking students

2011-04-06 00:00

NEGOTIATIONS between the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and striking students seem to have stalled. The Student Representative Council (SRC) says that the university is negotiating in bad faith, as UKZN has made it impossible for the SRC to hold a meeting with students to discuss the new terms of agreement.

On Sunday, university management and the SRC met to negotiate an end to last week’s riots at Westville. They agreed to adjourn until the SRC had approached students with the newly agreed terms and had them accepted.

However, they have not been able to hold a mass meeting. “We have not received permission to consult with students,” says SRC president Bongumenzi Mhlango.

UKZN had an interim interdict confirmed at the end of March, to prevent students from intimidating, harassing and assaulting fellow students and staff at any UKZN campus. The interdict also makes it illegal for students to organise or participate in any gathering, demonstration or mass action. “The university has an interdict in place, which has now been made final. The terms of that interdict prevent the students from gathering,” says UKZN spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi.

Mhlango added that the SRC will go to court in order to challenge the interdict.

“At the time [of the negotiations] the SRC told management that they were going to report back to students, they were aware of the conditions of the interdict — they were not asking for permission to meet, they were informing us that they will meet the students and report to them,” Mbadi added.

She says that students can meet off campus, or communicate via electronic media.

“We have never negotiated in bad faith — all the time we have placed our cards on the table,” Mbadi said.

The strikes, which took place last week, were due to unhappiness over a lack of financial aid for disadvantaged students.



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