Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Wits strike set to continue until demands are met

Kezia Lewins, a sociology lecturer who speaks for the striking unions, told the Mail & Guardian that although management had agreed to return to the negotiating table, unions would continue industrial action until increment demands were met.

A 9% increase for support staff tops the unions' demands. Academics are also seeking an increase in funds for research. It is understood that Wits' management agreed on other demands, such as opening a childcare facility on campus and more parking bays.

After four weeks of no negotiations, Lewins said unions received an invitation from management over the past weekend to resume talks. Negotiations ground to a halt on August 1, a day before hundreds of staff members went on strike.

The negotiations began on Monday. "Unions have formally accepted the invitation for negotiations, but the strike will continue as a way of putting pressure to management to meet demands,” said Lewins.

Tuesday's strike will involve staff from all three unions, representing staff across academic, administration and support operations. The Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu) was the first to declare Tuesday's strike, while the Administrative Library and Technical Staff Association (Altsa) and the Wits branch of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) announced last Wednesday they would also join.

It will be the second time this month that the unions embark on strike together. David Dickinson, Asawu’s president, described the unions' unity as "historical". "It's the first time academics go on strike in the history of the university. We've never had all three unions on strike."

Last week Asawu accused Wits' management of being "intransigent" for refusing to return to the negotiation table. But management has maintained negotiations stopped after unions walked out of a meeting a day before their first strike.

Furthermore, management did not have the mandate from the council, the highest structure in the university, to negotiate on salary increase demands, according to Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel.

The university’s senate asked the council last Thursday to order management to go back to negotiations. "My feeling is that, now with negotiations having opened, things would be resolved soon," said Patel.

Striking staff have planned pickets at the main campus, as well as five other campuses. Support and administrative operations are expected to grind to a halt, but not all classes will be disrupted. "Even during the first strike at least 75% of the classes went ahead," Patel said.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Bongani Nkosi
Bongani is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Covid-19 jab: a ticket of responsibility, not a ticket to...

Being fully vaccinated ‘makes you a little bit more comfortable in your skin’, says 61-year-old Elize Parker

More top stories

Children’s education in sub-Saharan Africa cannot wait

Children are being deprived not only of education, but also nutrition. Governments and the international community must secure these inalienable rights

Johannesburg council member Jolidee Matongo touted as front-runner to take...

The ANC will likely announce a candidate to take over as the city’s mayor next week after consultation with provincial and national leaders

Clashes in Tunisia after president ousts PM amid Covid protests

Street clashes erupted Monday outside Tunisia's army-barricaded parliament, a day after President Kais Saied ousted the prime minister and suspended the legislature, plunging the young democracy into a constitutional crisis

Five things to watch in the Zambian elections

Zambia will hold presidential elections in three weeks’ time amidst an ongoing economic crisis and rising political tensions. These are the five most important things to look out for in the elections
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×