Task team to compare salaries

AN INQUIRY into a salary dispute between university unions and the administration has been extended to April 10 and 11 by the deputy vice-chancellor’s office.

The hearings, which started last month, will be held in Central Block on east campus from 9am to 4pm

An external chairperson, advocate Mark Antrobus, has been appointed to conduct the hearings. He will find resolution to the dispute which occurred last August over salary negotiations and research funding.

“As the hearings are only partially complete it would obviously be premature to comment at this stage on the outcome which will only be made available once the hearings have been completed,” said Antrobus

The inquiry will not replace current negotiations between Wits administration and union over a salary increase.

In an email sent out to university staff during the week, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for finance and operations Prof Tawana Kupe said that recent tensions between management and staff arose due to a failure to agree on the 2012 salary increase.

A task team will be established this month to compare Wits’ salaries with that of five other peer institutions. Kupe said “this will serve as a basis for negotiating a three to five year salary settlement”.

The task team will include Kupe, the university’s chief financial officer, and representatives from the Wits human resources department, the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu) and the Administrative Library and Technical Staff Association (Altsa).

“Asawu is committed to working with Wits management in order to achieve competitive and fair salaries for academics at Wits,” Wits Asawu president David Dickinson told Wits Vuvuzela

Dickinson said Asawu was concerned with the “continued, informal, practice of academic staff being appointed in some parts of the university as salary levels below the agreed salary scales.”

He added that they have called on senior management to address this issue as a matter of urgency.

Adam Habib, incoming vice-chancellor, said the institution needed to pay competitive salaries if the university is to attract and retain excellent teachers and researchers.

“I am fairly optimistic that this issue will be put to rest,” he said.

This enquiry was called upon following the strikes last year on August 2 where lectures, tutorials and laboratory instruction had been suspended for one day.

Nehawu, who represent support staff, has demanded a 9% increase last year during the protests at the university. The Wits Council has offered a 6.8 percent increase for support staff and a 7.55 percent increase for academics in June 2012.

Asawu has demanded that their salaries be benchmarked to the 75th percentile with the other top five tertiary institutions in South Africa and increased funding for research.

Shortly after the strike, Altsa signed an agreement to change the salary implementation cycle to January-December from July-June. The next increase will be in January 2014.



‘R1800 just not enough’


NO WORK, NO MONEY: A single mother of four, Sara Phalane has decided to sell snacks in order to have money since she and other wits cleaners who have been striking for weeks are not going to get played. Photo: sthandiwe mchunu)

Wits cleaners will continue striking until they earn a minimum wage of R4 300 per month.They say the R 1800 they earn doesn’t cover all their expenses.

Forty nine year old Sara Phalane, a Supercare cleaner, says she decided to sell snacks when the strike began to generate some income during the ‘no work no pay’ strike. The single mother of four says she makes about R60 per day, which is not enough for her expenses.

Phalane says the R1 800 she earns as a cleaner is spent on food and clothes bought at a low cost and she can’t satisfy her kids the way she wants to.

“I failed to pay my son’s school trip and he was unhappy. Poverty is ruining my family’s happiness.”

Phalane dreamed of becoming a social worker but her dreams were crushed when she dropped out of school in Standard 3. “I regret dropping out, I feel like I failed my children, but I wish they could get education and better their lives.”

Carovone cleaner Monica Tlhaole says her son blames her for his drug addiction. Her son started smoking nyaope (a drug that contains heroin) after she couldn’t afford to buy him a suit for his matric dance.

 “He calls me all sorts of names when he is high.  He even blamed me for smoking nyaope.

“He once said who am I to tell him to get an education when I am just a cleaner who can’t afford to buy them (siblings) clothes and sometimes food.”

The 38-year-old mother of three says her son wanted to be a meteorologist but “nyaope destroyed his dreams”.

 “I blame myself for my son’s failures, I failed him.”

Tlhaole says she has a matric certificate but could not further her studies because of financial problems.

 Tears ran down her cheeks when she tells us that her son has turned into a thief who even steals from her house and beats his younger sister.

A middle-aged male cleaner who asked not to be named says he feels like he is not man enough because he cannot provide for his family properly.

“I can’t pay lobolo for the mother of my two kids… how can I afford to pay R10 000 lobolo with my R1 800 salary?”