TUT deadlock sees protests rage on
Protests over a salary dispute at the Tshwane University of Technology continued on Wednesday.
“We have reached a deadlock. The strike continues,” said National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) provincial chairperson Joe Mnisi.
Nehawu and the National Union of Tertiary Employees of South Africa began their strike over wages on January 24. A few days later protesters were injured when rubber bullets were fired at them.
“There is no solution so far. Management does not want to move,” he said of a meeting between the union and management on Tuesday.
“We agree with the 10% [offered by management], the only difference is the capping of salaries,” said Mnisi.
Union members would continue picketing at the Pretoria campus as the Soshanguve and Ga-Rankuwa campuses were closed, he said.
The university could not be immediately reached for comment.
Previously, university spokesperson Willa de Ruyter had said the deadlock between the two parties was due to the capping of the salaries of 303 workers following the implementation of a new market-related remuneration policy.
Nehawu branch treasurer Lazarus Mthetha on Monday said: “What the management is not telling the public is that we initially came up with the universal 10% wage increment for all staff members and they are proposing a conditional one.”
The implication would be “some staff members would only get 8% and some even a 6% increase”, which the union is rejecting, said Mthetha.
De Ruyter disputed Mthetha’s claims.
The strike has left students in the dark about their academic future.
Charlotte Nkosi, a third-year student, said she was one of many students barred from entering the TUT campus to write her exit examination.
Some were prevented from registering, while others were unsure about whether they would qualify for late application as administration staff were not present to assist them.
Student representative council (SRC) president Lincoln Morgan announced recently that the SRC would buy into the strike action in support of the unions because students were compromised in this process. Morgan said that “management has since agreed to discuss a recovery plan for lost academic time”.
Meanwhile, TUT had released a circular announcing that registration at the university was continuing as usual.
“Even though the official closing date for registration was on Friday, the university will, as far as possible, accommodate students who couldn’t register as a result of the strike,” the university said, adding that the closing date had been extended to February 6.
Senior students were advised to take advantage of online registration.—Sapa, Percy Mabandu