Registration disrupted at Unisa

2018-01-24 06:00
Unisa students outside the locked gate on Monday.PHOTO:lethiwe makhanya

Unisa students outside the locked gate on Monday.PHOTO:lethiwe makhanya

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HUNDREDS of students, who went to register at Unisa Pietermaritzburg Campus on Monday, were forced to return home due to Unisa employees being on strike, which began last Wednesday and resulted in the campus being shut down.

Employees demand a 12% wage increase, but the employer is offering seven percent.

When Maritzburg Fever went to the campus on Monday students queued outside hoping they will be assisted inside.

Their hopes were soon shattered when KZN Sasco deputy secretary Khetha Mthethwa asked them to disperse and go home.

He said that as student leadership they are aware of the issues between the employer and the employee at the campus, however they will not interfere.

“We will rather make sure that when the strike is over no student is excluded from the applications.

“As long as the strike persists, there is nothing we can do to assist students.

“However, those who are writing exams won’t be affected as they will be allowed to enter and write,” he said.

Mthethwa said although the university encourages students to apply online, there are students who require assistance from student advisors.

Last week Nehawu branch chairperson Mxolisi Mkhize told Maritzburg Fever that negotiations between them and the employer began last year.

“We were hoping that by December we would have reached an agreement. We told our employer last year we are willing to go down to 11%, but they did not take us seriously.

“The employer started by offering us 6.4%, they have since moved to seven percent, but we reject this offer. If we don’t get our demands no registration will take place here.

“We will continue to keep the gates closed as long as the registration process is on.

“Even if it takes us the whole month we don’t have a problem with that,” he said.

Mkhize said although they want 12% they are willing to drop to 8.5%.

He said negotiations are ongoing and if they reach an agreement with their employer everything will revert to normal.

A first-year student, who was waiting to register on Monday, but did not want his name published told Maritzburg Fever he arrived at the university at midnight.

“I drove from Kokstad and slept in the car and was first in the queue. This is worrying because it is not the first time I have come here. Last Thursday I arrived at 2am and also slept in the car, but I couldn’t register.

“This is putting financial strain on us. The petrol from Kokstad here is R400 return a day.

What really makes us angry is that no one from the university explains what is happening.”

He said he tried applying online, but when he tried to upload the document the system told him there was an error.

Thabiso Mkhize from Elandskop, who also came to register, said he is concerned because bursary applications close on Friday and he is not yet registered.

“We don’t know when the strike will end so all we can do is wait. I also came here last Wednesday and up until today I haven’t had any help.

I can’t apply online because I don’t know how to,” he said.

A first-year student Phumlani Ngubo said he has spent two days waiting to register.

“I came here yesterday [last Wednesday] and today [last Thursday], but the gates are closed.

I don’t know what to do anymore as this is costing me money and I am travelling for nothing.”

Nonkululeko Mthiyane, also a first-year student said she came early to register because she wanted to be first in the queue.

“When I got here and saw the gates closed I was very disappointed.

The employees who are striking are being selfish. What about us? We are running out of time.

I hope this strike ends soon so we can start preparing for our future,” said Mthiyane.

On Wednesday Unisa released a statement stating they have extended the registration deadline to January 30.

“Unisa is currently in the middle of a strike and discussions between the union, management and the CCMA are in progress. We will inform you of progress out of these discussions. While negotiations are taking place, we encourage students to continue to register online,” reads the statement.

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