Tensions continue to simmer between CPUT, students and workers

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Tensions are simmering between CPUT and its staff.
Tensions are simmering between CPUT and its staff.
shraf Hendricks, GroundUp, file
  • Tensions continue to simmer between CPUT, students and workers.
  • A union has mooted a strike that will close down the university.
  • The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has several concerns.

A meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training did little to dissipate simmering tensions between the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), students and workers.

CPUT was summoned to Thursday's meeting after it failed to appear before the committee last week.

Committee chairperson Philly Mapulane said it was "quite enraged" about this.

CPUT had to respond to concerns raised by the Student Representative Council and labour unions at a previous meeting. 

The chairperson of the CPUT Council, advocate Zuko Mapoma, apologised and said the university needed more time to prepare its presentation.

"We apologise if we came across as arrogant," he said.

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Student and worker representatives said nothing had changed in the relations between them and the university since the committee meeting earlier in the year.

A representative of the National Insourced Workers Union said the union had applied for a legal strike.

"This year, we're going to stop everything at CPUT."

Mapoma presented a briefing to the committee, saying the students and workers' issues have been addressed.

"Our intention, at all material times, is to do what we can do in the interest of the university. We are not claiming to be perfect," he added.

"I still don't understand," said Mapulane. "Why are the stakeholders still unhappy if everything is so rosy?"

In a statement released after the meeting, the committee expressed its concern about the "outcry by the student representative council that the policy and processes that the university employs to discipline the students, particularly the student leaders, seem to be unfair and targeting the student leaders to discourage them from being critical of the university's leadership".

Fairness

It called on the university's council to immediately review this policy to ensure it provided for fairness in the process.

"It's important that the policy is reviewed so that it is not only fair and justifiable, but it is seen to be fair by those at the receiving end of the policy," said Mapulane.

The committee is also concerned about the complaints about CPUT's state from both the students and workers, while the council and management paint a rosy picture of the institution.

The committee requested the council and management to attend to the stakeholder relationship in a thorough and genuine manner that would yield results that ensure all issues could be ventilated in a manner that would lead to the success of the institution.

The committee requested CPUT to provide a detailed report on the expulsion of two trade union chairpersons.

The committee requested CPUT to provide an expenditure report for all these labour issues and the disciplinary case process for the past two financial years.

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