Strike at Unisa head office

 

Hundreds of National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union

(Nehawu) members dispersed peacefully after a three-hour protest over wages

outside the University of South Africa’s (Unisa) head offices in Pretoria.

Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said: “We were only launching the

strike today. It is expected to go national tomorrow and it will be a daily

thing until our demands are met.”

Nehawu declared a dispute after Unisa refused its demand of a 12%

annual salary increment across the board. The university has offered 8.5%.

The protest involved academic and support staff.

Pamla said: “The salary negotiations have been going on since the

beginning of the year and we have tried every other trick in the book, but they

are not prepared to move.

“They have told us that they will implement the 8.5% as of Friday,

whether we agree or not. That is why we decided to embark on the strike,” he

said.

The union was communicating with provincial leadership to ensure

that the strike spread across the country from tomorrow, he said.

Union leaders were in meetings after today’s protest, discussing

the co-ordination of the nationwide strike and the formation of provincial task

teams to oversee it.

Pamla said the university’s day-to-day running was affected by the

protest: “There is a student-worker alliance that has come about after some

student bodies informed us that they support the strike and will be

participating in protests.

That also needs co-ordination.

“There is student registration going on currently and that was

particularly affected by the protest.

It is still too early to say how much

impact it has had but that will be clear once the strike is rolled out

nationally,” he said.

Unisa spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said the university felt its offer

was more than generous: “This is our final offer.

It is not only generous but

much higher than what other tertiary institutions have agreed on.”

Bonuses and pay progression were not ordinarily paid at tertiary

institutions and should be seen as an additional benefit for Unisa employees,

Ntuane said: “We do not only have the salary increments, but performance-related

bonuses too.

That makes our offer more than generous.”

He said the institution was not aware of Nehawu’s plan to spread

the protests to other provinces.


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