Strike action to continue at Wits

Wits workers march down Jorissen street in Braamfontein on Monday, January 29. Photo: Ntando Thukwana

The workers’ strike at Wits University is expected to continue tomorrow, January 30, following an impasse in negotiations between the institution’s management and unions.

After lengthy engagements that started over the weekend, unions and Wits management met today in a meeting facilitated by an independent commissioner where the institution’s latest offer was discussed. By the end of the day though, no agreement had been reached and as a result the strike is set to move into its seventh day, according to Nehawu chairperson for the Greater Johannesburg region, Columbus Ncuthe.

Acting secretary for Nehawu Wits, Tumisho Madihlaba, said that the university’s newest offer is 7% for grades 5 to 8, 7,8% for grades 9 to 15 and 9.2% for grades 16 and 17. Wits had previously offered an 8% increase for the grades 16 and 17 with 6,8% across all other grades.

Ncuthe, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “They (Wits) proposed that for the lowest paid (grades) they are giving them 9.2%. That’s what’s in discussion now, among other things,” Ncuthe said.

He added that the long service award in cash form and medical aid increases formed part of today’s discussion. “If the parties agree then we might summarily suspend the strike,” he said.

Sam Mangena, chairperson of Wits Nehawu, speaking to the workers, addressed the no work no pay approach that the university had applied for the duration of the strike. He told the striking workers that the matter was under discussion with management. The draft offer from Wits suggested that workers may be allowed to use their leave for the work days lost during the strike action.

“We don’t want your money to be deducted,” he told the workers assembled at Solomon Mahlangu House this afternoon.

Wits Communications officer Buhle Zuma told Wits Vuvuzela that the university had plans in place to deal with the disruptions on campus. “Some University activities were disrupted (taps were opened so that bathrooms were flooded), but contingency plans have been put in place … Classes start on Monday, 5 February 2018,” She said.

RELATED ARTICLES: