Meeting with all parties to find solution to seven-week impasse between Durban University of Technology management and staff‚ which has resulted in the academic programme being suspended.

Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training Buti Manamela is set to intervene in the seven-week salary increment negotiations impasse between Durban University of Technology (DUT) management and striking staff.

DUT has been unable to begin the 2018 academic year and the university’s senate suspended lectures indefinitely two weeks ago due to the strike.

DUT SRC President Siphephelo Mthembu told Wits Vuvuzela that Manamela’s intervention is aimed to find an immediate amicable solution to the ongoing instability so classes can begin. “The priority is to go back to classes, before we become concerned with other things. We need to find common ground and make sure that when staff go back they don’t implement a negative attitude. There are rumours that lecturers won’t cover some chapters because they have not been paid for January and February,” said Mthembu.

“We agreed not to support the ongoing staff strike as it [poses] a threat to the academic life of our students, although we agree that their struggle is genuine. However, the SRC was never engaged during the salary negotiations. Both parties must swallow their egos and find a solution for the best benefit of students and the entire population of DUT,” he added.

The striking staff members are affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), the National Tertiary Education Union and the Tertiary Education National Union of South Africa.
Nehawu national spokesperson Khaya Xaba told Wits Vuvuzela that, “We are hoping to provide a breakthrough to the impasse. Everything that is resolved at the meeting must go to the bargaining council and agreed there. We don’t want a situation where things are imposed on our workers.”

The workers are demanding an 8.25% salary increase, a R9 000 annual bonus and a R250 increase to the housing allowance. However, the university is only offering 6.25%, according to Xaba.