Protesting UJ worker: I was misled

2015-11-10 09:48
Magarette  Chawuke (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

Magarette Chawuke (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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Johannesburg - A protesting University of Johannesburg worker claims she was misled into signing an agreement with Nehawu and UJ's Vice-Chancellor Ihron Rensburg to end the strike.

Magarette Chawuke apologised to a group of protesters outside the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Monday, saying she wrongfully signed the agreement without their consent.

- Read more: Negotiations at UJ reach stalemate

Workers and students had gathered outside the court in support of the 141 people who were arrested during a protest at UJ's Kingsway campus on Friday afternoon.

Workers and students have been protesting for days against outsourcing.

Chawuke appeared emotional and nervous as she was about to address protesters.

On Sunday, UJ released a statement saying that an agreement had been reached to end outsourcing at the university.

Nehawu member ‘misled me’

The statement said the university had met with Nehawu representatives and a workers' representative. It went on to say that a resolution to the ongoing protest had been achieved and that workers would be back at work on Tuesday.

But on Monday morning, workers said they knew nothing of the agreement.

Addressing the group of angry protesters, Chawuke said she knew that workers were angry about her signature appearing in a UJ statement. She said she was misled when a Nehawu member called her after being released from Brixton police station on Saturday, asking her to meet as a workers' representative.

She said some of the things that were discussed and agreed on at the meeting did not appear in the final statement.

"The VC came and we read a memorandum to him and we started calculating with him about money [in terms of salaries].

"The VC said he agreed to insourcing, but some of what we agreed on, did not appear in the statement. The proposal looked good but there was a mistake. I signed because I wanted workers to be happy. They said workers have to be back on Tuesday and not participate in protests or disrupt classes. I say to you, I'm sorry for not giving you the full statement," she said.

A personal dilemma

Nehawu spokesperson Thulani Skhosana said the meeting was between the union, UJ management and Chawuke.

"She was representing the outsourced workers of the university... She was not coerced by the union or management. There is an interesting thing with this protest similar to that of Wits University.

"Some workers want to represent themselves. They include unionised and non-union members. Her dilemma has nothing to do with us."

UJ could not be reached for comment on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, protests continued on Monday after negotiations between students and management reached a stalemate.

This after management said it would not meet with protesters until they were shown "respect".

While management had invited student leadership to a meeting on Sunday, the SRC declined.

It said with its president suspended, it did not want to meet behind closed doors and wanted to be addressed on a public platform instead.

Read more on:    university of johannesburg  |  johannesburg  |  labour  |  education  |  university fees

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