Unisa strike continues as wage talks deadlock


Zodidi Mhlana

JOHANNESBURG- Wage negotiations between the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and University of South Africa (Unisa) have collapsed after the institution approached the labour court in a bid to nullify the strike.

Nehawu members at Unisa embarked on an industrial action last week Wednesday demanding a 10% increase while the university is offering 7%.

On Monday, the union urged its striking members to continue until all demands were met.

“At Unisa, the national union is continuing with the total shutdown of all Unisa campuses across the country. This comes after management opted out of negotiations and approached the labour court in an attempt to nullify of our legal protected strike as per Sec 64 (a)-(i)-(ii) of the LRA without success. The CCMA has also issued Nehawu with a certificate of non-resolution to that effect,” Nehawu said on Monday.

Nehawu’s spokesperson, Khaya Xaba said that the union was also demanding that the university should permanently employ contract workers. The union has more than 25 000 members at the institution throughout the country

“Our second demand is the absorption of all workers who have been on contracts since 2014. We are saying there should be employed on a full time basis at the university. They say that they can’t meet our demands, pleading poverty. But, we know for a fact that they are being disingenuous, Unisa attracts and registers more than 400 000 students and they are sitting on more half a 500billion in reserves. They do have money to pay workers, they are just being intransigent,” he said.

Nehawu has also said that the university must insource ICT casual workers.

“Insourcing of all ICT workers who have been casual workers for more than 15 years. Unisa behaves as if they are above the Law by not complying with the Labour Relations Act by not absorbing qualifying fixed term workers to permanent employees. The Union has since invoked section 150 of the LRA and invited CMMA to come and try to assist parties to reach an agreement and to allow a smooth resumption of registration as per SASCO Right to learn Campaign and implementation of the first phase of free higher education,” the union said.

Xaba said that the union negotiated with the university for four months before embarking on an industrial action. He accused the institution of treating these workers with “disdain and arrogance.”

Meanwhile, Nehawu members at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) were also continuing with their protest after the union rejected a revised offer of 6%. The union is demanding a 10% increase across board. Negotiations between the two parties were set to resume on Monday morning.