Wits Workers are expected to go back to work tomorrow, February 1.
Strike action has been suspended at Wits University after the institution announced that it had reached an agreement with the four unions, Nehawu, the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu), the Admin and Library Staff Association (Altsa) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Tuesday, January 30.
The negotiations over a wage increase dispute were concluded on Tuesday evening bringing the week-long strike action to an end with some outstanding issues still to be resolved through an arbitration process expected to begin in April this year.
Wits Senior Communications Officer, Buhle Zuma, confirmed to Wits Vuvuzela that the workers would be resuming their duties tomorrow. In a statement released earlier today, the university said, “The salary increase agreement is differentiated from 7% to 9.2% depending on the employee’s grade, including a provision for performance.”
Some of the unresolved demands of the unions include linking the 7% salary increment for academic staff to performance, moving grade 16 and 17 workers (lowest income earners) to the middle income earning status by June 2018 as well as reintroducing the cash form long service award for workers.
Wits Nehawu Secretary, Tumisho Madihlaba, said the majority of Nehawu workers gave a mandate to the union to sign the agreement. “We reached an agreement with management. There are lot of outstanding issues, but we attached deadlines onto them, a deadline of April 2018 and June 2018,” he said.
“We had already considered that we’ll accept the percentage increases. 9.2%, 7.8% and 7%, but there are outstanding issues. Performance, long service award as well as moving workers to mid-point by June,” said Madihlaba.
He added that management had committed to implementing the clauses in the agreement. “If by June they’ve not implemented, we will revive the strike,” he said.
Vice-president of the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu), Alex van den Heever, told Wits Vuvuzela that a majority of the Asawu members rejected the offer by management to link increases to a performance management system.
“We essentially feel that the provisions in the current agreements that are proposed fail to meet the objective in properly incentivising performance,” van den Heever said.
“It means that some people will get the benefit when they shouldn’t, other people won’t get when they should,” he said.