- Unions representing Witwatersrand University service staff and
academics went on a pay strike on Thursday, disrupting some campus
boom gates on Yale Road, leading into the university, were unmanned
and open in the morning, and at least one library had closed for
second, large library on campus remained open, though it appeared to
have fewer staff members.
gates were again operating by 1pm, though they did not appear to be
staffed by uniformed security guards.
students interviewed said they had seen some, though not all, of
their day's lectures cancelled or postponed.
lot of our lectures were cancelled," said actuarial student
instead of having five (lectures) I had three."
all students were affected by the strike. Medical student Mpazi
Siwale said his classes at Wits Medical School had not been
not for me. I just had an exam," he said.
Staff Association of Wits University leader David Dickinson accused
management of negotiating in bad faith over the past three years.
was joined by representatives from the Administration, Library and
Technical Staff Association and National Education, Health and Allied
Workers' Union (Nehawu).
said the university was not living up to its previous agreement of
paying academics an average up to the 75th percentile for the
said this was key to insuring the university attracted the best
academic staff and remained competitive. The academics also wanted
more funds for research and argued that funds allocated by the
government for this were not reaching them.
demands are precisely to protect the value of this university,"
Wits chair Richard Sadiki said his members were seeking a "sliding"
scale increase with a 9% increase for the lowest paid workers.
showed reporters his payslip, indicating he earned only a R3000 base
rate for his work as a security guard.
vice-chancellor Loyiso Nongxa denied the university had been
negotiating in bad faith and accused unions of walking out of
said unions and the university had agreed on "98%" of the
issues, with pay increases the only outstanding matter. Nongxa
maintained the increases were "unsustainable".
said the university had a R100m surplus last year and could afford to
agreed the university had shown a surplus. However, this was due to
cannot support (pay) increases on positions that have not been
said management was concerned about how the strike would damage the
university's reputation, but could not agree to the union's demanded
am concerned about our reputation, but we cannot be coerced into
something that is unsustainable," he said.
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