DUT wage talks impasse ends after govt steps in over protracted strike

Durban – Durban University of Technology (DUT) is to reopen its doors after positive mediation between unions and management on Tuesday afternoon, government has said.

"The parties have agreed to resume with negotiations and reactivate the bargaining process," Deputy Minister for Higher Education Buti Manamela said.

The seven-week strike, staged by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Tertiary Education National Union of SA (Tenusa) saw the university come to a standstill.

READ: Students march in solidarity with striking DUT workers

Manamela said that unions and university management have now agreed to go back to the negotiation table.

"My biggest worry was that, even though there was a strike, there were no negotiations at all. The parties were not talking to each other. I can happily say that tomorrow (Wednesday) negotiations will be resuming and the unions will be reporting back to their members."

Manamela said the CCMA would be mediating the process in the hope that negotiations would be completed by the end of the week.

"In the course of the week, we need to see the resumption of academic work at the university. That was the basic framework that was agreed upon."

He said that it was hoped students would be back at the university as soon as possible.

"We call students who left campus to start coming back. Those who could not register, the university has assured that they will get you registered."

Manamela said, when workers accept the framework on negotiations, the strike would be formally suspended and academic work would resume.

READ: DUT students deliver demands as staff’s wage deadlock continues

Manamela added that there would have to be trust building between the university and management, but said he was confident both parties would find a way forward.

"This is the breakthrough of the parties involved. I am happy they came into this meeting with an open mind."

Speaking to News24, spokesperson for the combined unions, Milton Estrice, said it was a "fruitful meeting with the minister".

"We will be announcing the progress to workers tomorrow, thereafter we will comment on it."

Earlier in the day, striking staff marched to the offices of vice-chancellor, Professor Thandwa Mthembu, after meeting at Curries Fountain. They received large support including students.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader at DUT, Bonginkosi "Education" Khanyile said that EFF national leader Julius Malema had pledged to come to KZN to help resolve the matter if no agreement was reached.

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