TUT students kicked off campus

TUT

EDUCATION SUSPENDED: Protests over fees have been ongoing at TUT since the middle of last year. Photo: Twitter

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) has suspended the start of the academic year and evicted students from a number of its campuses, following violent protests over the financial aid crisis, the Independent Online reported.

On Friday evening, students were given until noon on Sunday to vacate Soshanguve north, Soshanguve south, Ga-Rankuwa, Mbombela and eMalahleni campuses.

Activities have been suspended until an agreement is reached with the university’s Student Representative Council (SRC), TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter told Independent Online.

She said that, following a series of violent protests, the university was concerned about the students’ safety.

“Our first and foremost concern is the students as we are responsible for them while they are on our premises. So, in the interest of their safety and to avoid possible damage to property, we decided this was the best route,” she said.

JacarandaFM reported on Twitter that some first year students do not support the suspension and “fear they will fail”.

Several students have complained on Twitter that although the SRC have encouraged them to remain in res and to continue protesting for free registration, they are nowhere to be seen.

De Ruyter said they were hoping for a response from the SRC soon.

Protests at TUT have been ongoing since September last year, when students burnt a bus on campus and the SRC was suspended over National Student Financial Aid Scheme protests.

The first week of lectures at the University of KwaZulu-Natal have also been suspended, after student protests. It remains unclear for what reason the students are protesting, as they have yet to raise their concerns officially with the university.

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VIDEO: Marikana First Anniversary

AUGUST 16 marks the first anniversary of the fateful killing of Lonmin platinum mine workers in North West province. The event has been dubbed the “Marikana massacre” because police opened fire at over 30 protesting mine workers. A year later questions still need to be answered by the Marikana commission of inquiry regarding the police’s conduct and events leading to the disputes. Wits Vuvuzela took to the streets to ask Witsies whether they remember the event, its significance and how the day should be commemorated.

Camera operator

Mfuneko Toyana

Interviewer

Ray Mahlaka

Editor

Ray Mahlaka and Nomatter Ndebele

Unions adamant two strikes later

The two aggrieved Wits staff unions do not need to embark on an indefinite strike, says Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (Altsa) president Adele Underhay.

Underhay met with Altsa members on Wednesday to update them on negotiations with Wits management. Altsa signed the 2012 wage agreement the day before the second union strike in August. This left the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu), and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) deadlocked with management.

“We felt that management came back and they had moved considerably on a lot of issues,” Underhay said.

The three unions jointly declared a dispute with management in May over a range of grievances, most notably salary increases.

On the morning of the second strike, some Altsa members expressed disappointment with union leadership for “breaking ranks”.

Underhay said she tried to be reasonable, although her point of view may be shifting.

“We need to get new blood into the negotiating team … maybe I’m not seeing things clearly anymore, maybe I’ve been in it too long.”

Asawu gave its members the option to vote for an indefinite strike as a way forward but they chose to boycott administrative meetings. It also considered suspending the strike until next year, when there will be new members of senior management.

“It is clear that the current management plans to talk itself out of office and make the problem that of the next administration. The unions have now run through the entire Wits senior leadership and it is clear that there is nobody with whom negotiations can reasonably take place,” the Wits Joint Union spokesperson said.

Prof Rob Moore, deputy vice-chancellor: advancement and partnerships, said management was committed to resolving the dispute “as quickly as possible”, and was grateful that strikes had not caused further disruption of academic activities.

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 25th edition, 21st September 2012

ALTSA leaders break ranks

Members from the unions ALTSA, ASAWU and NEHAWU gathered outside the Great Hall Steps at 12pm to protest the break down in wage negotiations with Wits Council. Photo by Jay Caboz

By Lisa Golden and Nandi Ndlazi
Photographs by Jay Caboz

Wits Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA) leadership accepted the terms offered by Wits management after last-minute negotiations last night but failed to inform some of their members of this decision. This left the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) to strike by themselves today August 28 against Wits management.

This morning confused ALTSA members arrived at the picketing lines, unaware that their leaders had accepted an agreement with Wits management the night before. Some were confused and frustrated when they found out.

This is the second strike by the academic unions this month. They are demanding an increase in salaries for workers, an agreement to structure salaries around the 75th percentile, resolve issues with parking and provide a childcare facility for workers among other issues.

Ian Walters, and ALTSA member and an administrator in the Wits School of Arts, was unaware that ALTSA had backed out of the strike, and only found out when he arrived at campus in the morning.
“I’m staying on strike because I’m in support of NEHAWU and ASAWU. That was the original idea,” said Walters.

Adele Underhay, the president of ALTSA, was unavailable for comment, and some members of the union also couldn’t reach her.

David Dickinson, president of ASAWU said it was regrettable that ALTSA leaders had chosen to break ranks. “I respect the independence as a union and the decision of their leadership is what they must account for to their membership” Dickinson said.

Negotiations between the Wits Executive Council and ASAWU, ALTSA and NEHAWU was re-opened a day before the strike. Photo by Jay Caboz

The Wits Senate (the academic leadership forum) made a call to halt the striking unions “without further delay”. Photo by Jay Caboz

Fellow ALTSA members expressed their disappointment in their leadership’s acceptance of management’s offers. Barbie Pickering from the finance faculty said she didn’t know about their union pulling out at the eleventh hour and they only received the e-mail this morning.

“We went into this thing to support all the unions. We are not happy with our union leadership on that,” said Pickering.

The rally, which started at noon, had speakers that reiterated the unions’ demands. Carl Beaumont, an ASAWU member, congratulated the ALTSA members who turned up at the rally while fellow strikers applauded the group.

The Student Representation Council and the Wits Workers Solidarity Committee again pledged their support for the striking unions.

The final word from Beaumont was that the unions are prepared to strike again if their demands are not properly discussed and considered during negotiations.
nandi@witsvuvuzela.com
lisa@witsvuvuzela.com

Unions reject management’s final offer: Second strike goes ahead

Photo: Jay Caboz

Two of the three Wits unions will strike tomorrow August 28, after they declined management’s offer in negotiations.

Last-minute talks were held between unions and management on Monday afternoon to try and prevent a second one-day strike. The Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), the Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU), jointly declared a dispute in May over a range of grievances including salary increases and insufficient parking.

In talks which ended around 5pm on Monday, management proposed (among others): a shift from the July-to-June pay cycle to a January-to-December pay cycle (to create a salary increase in January 2013), negotiations for next year’s salaries to begin next week, a written understanding of the 75th percentile salary benchmark, and a commitment to resolving non-salary issues by year end.

Joint union spokesperson Kezia Lewins said there was “insufficient movement” towards a resolution by 5pm, the time it had been agreed that negotiations would end.

“Given that no agreement could be concluded and management’s disinclination to continue with the negotiation process, the planned strike will go ahead,” Lewins said.

Lewins said management threatened to withdraw all the offers if Tuesday’s strike went ahead.

Dr Kgomotso Kasonkola, senior director of Human Resources, said only ALTSA accepted these proposals.

“It is regrettable that ASAWU and NEHAWU have rejected these offers without explanation or counter-offers, and have announced their intention to continue their strike action tomorrow,” Kasonkola said.

“Upon stating that they would be reporting back to their principals, Professor Ballim (Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic) told the unions “off you go!” Lewins said. According to a tweet from ASAWU (witsjointaction), the vice-Chancellor Loyiso Nongxawas not present during the negotiations.

How Wits stacks up against other academic institutions

The Human Resources department conducted a comparative salary analysis to show how Wits’ range of salaries compares with other research-intensive institutions.

According to the findings, a Wits lecturer earns between R393 900 and R590 850 per annum, while a University of Cape Town (UCT) lecturer earns a maximum of R427 311.

Kasonkola said these values do not show the full salary packages at institutions, but Wits is currently a “market leader” in academic salaries.

Also, the 7.55% and 6.8% increases granted to academic and support staff respectively were above the Consumer Price Index (CPI), pegged at 4.9% in July.

Last-ditch attempt

Management re-invited the three unions to the negotiating table over the weekend, nearly a month since their first strike on August 2.

The Wits Senate (the academic leadership forum) had called on the Wits Council to resolve the dispute “without further delay”.

Union members intend to picket at major entrances to Wits in the morning, and hold a rally on the steps of the Great Hall at noon.

 

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Wits academics to strike again

There has been no resolution to the dispute between Wits management and unions, and the Academic and Support Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU) has announced another one-day strike.

Last minute negotiations between management and the Academic and Support Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) and the Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA), to prevent the one-day strike on August 2 failed.

ASAWU members will also boycott admin meetings and performance management from August 20, in addition to the withdrawal of services on August 28.

In a meeting on Tuesday August 14, members were given ballots to vote for additional action, with an indefinite strike being one of their options.

The unions had demanded a signed agreement to their demands, but “chose to walk out of the mediation process before it was concluded”, according to vice chancellor Professor Loyiso Nongxa. ASAWU President David Dickinson denied this, saying Nongxa was not present at the negotiation sessions.

The unions are demanding a 9% salary increase for support staff and payment to academics at the 75th percentile of the tertiary education sector.  They also demand the establishment of a childcare facility for Wits employees, an end to overselling of parking permits in non-designated parking areas and access by their auditors to the university’s financial system.

Academic and support staff picket outside the Yale Road entrance to Wits during their initial one-day strike. Photo: Jay Caboz.

Union decries silent treatment

Dickinson said they were met with silence after the strike.

“The first communication of any kind from management is the letter sent out today [August 13] by the vice chancellor to all Wits employees. This message fails to engage with the issues raised by the three unions and their members. It is a slap in the face of Wits lecturers and support staff.”

Nongxa said management did not have a mandate from the Wits council to grant the 9% increase, but proposed a shift from the July-to-June pay cycle to a January-to-December pay cycle. Staff could get a pay rise in January 2013 together with the increase received in July.

Nongxa said the proposals made by management were realistic and asked for “similarly constructive responses” from the unions.

“In the current context of declining state subsidies, the cost of higher-than-average salary increases may have to be carried by already heavily-burdened student fees.”

ASAWU seeking solidarity

ALTSA and NEHAWU are consulting with their members on further action. Dickinson said he hoped they joined ASAWU’s strike and boycotts.

During the previuos strike, Nongxa said the university could not be coerced into meeting the unions’ “unsustainable” demands.

“One would have assumed that, in an environment where we think about these things, that you can come with reasoned solutions to these problems, rather than resorting to a strike.”

 

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by Jay Caboz

Published in the vuvuzela, 20 July 2012

This week’s protest march by Wits academic and support staff was the result of months of frustration following failed wage negotiations according to union representatives.

Academics and support staff have called for an end to what they say has become a deadlock in annual negotiations. The university has rejected their demands on pay, governance and conditions of service.

Vuvuzela has reported on increased hostility in the negotiations between the Academic Staff Association (ASAWU) and vice chancellor Loyiso Nongxa.

The academics are demanding a 9% salary increase for support staff, the establishment of a childcare facility for Wits employees and an end to overselling parking permits in non-designated parking areas, among other things.

In a statement released on July 10, Nongxa said he recognised the unions’ right to protest, as long as it did not interfere with the rights of students and other members of the Wits community to access services on campus.

Last month roughly 150 academics and staff picketed outside the entrance of the basement parking in Senate House. Some staff members told Vuvuzela they earn as little as R20 000 a year, despite working at Wits for more than 20 years.

During the negotiations in June, the university said it would cost around R60-million to implement the increase demanded.

The unions are expected to march again on August 2.

The protest action is supported by the Members of the Administration, the Library and Technical Staff Association, the Academic Staff Association of Wits University and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union.

Follow more of the strike action on our online segment www.witsvuvuzela.com

The list of demands

– a 9% salary increase for support staff, to be paid at a higher scale at the 75th percentile of the tertiary education sector benchmark
– decent salaries to be given before performance regulations were initiated;
– a resolution of the dispute on shift allowances
– an agreement on sliding scales to advance equity
– the establishment of a childcare facility for Wits employees
– an end to overselling of parking permits in non-designated parking areas;
– an increase in individual research incentives

jay@witsvuvuzela.com

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Wits staff protest against management

Wits academic and support staff unions have planned a rally through Braamfontein on July 19 and a one-day strike next month over long-standing grievances with Wits management.

The three unions jointly declared a dispute after annual wage negotiations faltered last month. Management announced a 7.25% increase for academic staff (Grades 5-9). But the Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) have demanded a 9%increase.

They received a certificate of dispute from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which provides legal protection for protest and strike action.

The two unions, along with the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), also made non-wage related demands in a memorandum to management, including a child care facility for Wits employees.

The unions began their protest action with a picket on Jorissen Street outside Senate House in June, coinciding with a scheduled meeting of the Wits Council. About 150 staff members lined the entrance of the basement parking in freezing weather, calling for support as Council officials and members of the public arrived.

 

 

Catherine Dryden, a librarian, told Vuvuzela that she has worked at Wits for over 20 years and earns less than R20,000.

“With my experience and my qualifications, I think it’s an absolute disgrace, and I think if I were a member of Council, I would hang my head in shame”, she said.

Deputy vice chancellor of finance and operations, Prof Patrick FitzGerald, said the university provides extensive information about its financial sustainability during negotiations. Last year, ASAWU’s proposed salary increase would have cost the university around R60m to implement.

“Enough is enough”.

According to the unions, this is the third year they have been in dispute with management. Advocate Liz Picarra, an executive committee member of ASAWU, said “enough is enough”.

“We care about this university, we are this university, and unless they start engaging with us, we are actually doing our students and the entire university community a disservice”, she said.

Nomasonto Baloyi, a data administrator at the Wits Arts Museum, said she has not moved to a job that could pay better because of the experience and benefits Wits offers.

ASAWU president David Dickinson asked Sakumzi Macozoma, Wits Council chair, for his views on the picket as he drove in. He responded, “I hope you’ve told them that we’re speaking to you, have you?”

Wits Council chair, Sakumzi Macozoma (left) in conversation with ASAWU president David Dickinson (right).

Wits Communications manager, Shirona Patel, said management may not respond directly to the memorandum, but will continue with talks until next week.

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Strike leaves a stink on campus

The Wartenweiler library is a mess while the cleaners strike.

Campus resembles one big dustbin as residences, toilets, libraries and lecture halls have been left dirty after cleaners began their strike on Monday.

Wits Solidarity Committee member, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, gave a message of support to cleaners outside Senate House on Monday. “Campus must stink, so that people will know the importance of cleaners; as long as campus is clean, people won’t know how important this service is.”

He said that living comfortably in clean spaces while cleaners are exploited was an injustice, as they are not remunerated properly.

Vuvuzela found dirty toilets and overflowing dustbins all around campus.

3rd year BCom student Mfanelo Mabasa usually  finds the 24-hour section at the Wartenweiler library the only conducive environment to study in, but said the library is currently “unbearable for studying”. He is, however, in favour of the strike as he believes cleaners deserve more pay.

A statement released by Vice-chancellor Professor Loyiso Nongxa said that “the cleaning companies contracted to Wits are to appoint temporary staff to clean both private and public areas at the institution”.

Workers from eight unions march down Jozi streets.

Wits lecturer in the politics department, Dr SP Lekgoathi, has a “please don’t clean this office. No to scab labour” poster outside his office door.

Lekgoathi said: “The place should be dirty so that the service providers can realise we can’t do without cleaners.”  He also said that, as academics, it is fair to support the cleaners.

Simon Skosana, a 1st year BSc mining engineering student studying in Wartenweiler library said he was disturbed by the dirt. “I don’t have a choice because I want to study.”

Another 3rd year student, Gqamile Dladla, said: “Wits should respond and workers should come back, the bathrooms are disgusting”.

These Witsies said the strike had made them realise the cleaners’ worth.

Marching against minimum wage and eight-hour shifts.

The strike began on Monday when unions, including Wits contract cleaners, marched to the library lawns in Johannesburg. The unions want the salaries of workers earning less than R2 400 a month increased to R4200 a month. Other demands include a yearly 13th cheque and an eight-hour working shift.

 

General secretary of the National Services and Allied Workers Union, Sam Mbou, said no official offer has been made by the employers.

Wiseman Dinwa, Hotelicca deputy general secretary, said the strike will continue until an agreement with the employers is made.

 

Amandla!

 

100 percent increase or nothing

Wits cleaners will go on strike on Monday, demanding a 100% salary increase while employers are offering 8%.

Cleaners from Supercare and Carovone said they are “fighting for a living wage” of R 4 300. They said they have not received an increase since they went on strike in 2006 when they negotiated salaries of R2 031, before deductions are made.

Cleaner representative, Siyabonga Makhalani, said they are not happy with the 8%  employers are offering them. “We do not want percentages,” he said. 

Makhalani said they are also fighting against outsourced workers as other universities, like the University of Johannesburg, employ cleaners directly.  

Carovone worker, Julia Mahlosi, said: “I get about R1 800 and I am so overworked”. She said she is responsible for cleaning all the rooms on one floor of a residence building.

Cleaners said they are suffering as their salaries do not cover their expenses. Supercare worker Alina Modimolla said with six kids she cannot afford to stop working. “My child complains all the time about the low pay.”   

Speaking last Friday at a meeting of the cleaners and the Workers Solidarity Committee, PYA member Feziwe Ndwayana said: “As the ANC Youth League we are here and saying to all the workers we are in full support of the strike and will be there in numbers.  If it means we as students must mobilise at night we will do it because we’ve done it before.”  

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lysWqQZiSI