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Strike imminent at Cape Peninsula University of Technology after salary negotiations deadlock

Strike imminent at Cape Peninsula University of Technology after salary negotiations deadlock
The District Six, Cape Town campus of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. (Photo: Flickr)

Cape Peninsula University of Technology staff are poised to go on strike after rejecting the university’s wage offers. Students are also threatening to demonstrate.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) staff are set to down tools this week as salary negotiations have hit a deadlock. The staff, including administrative workers, technical officers, managers and lecturers, are represented by four unions, while non-unionised staff are also set to take part in pickets at CPUT’s four campuses.

The university also faces the prospect of a shutdown by students in the coming days. Students have threatened to shut down campuses with the support of the student representative council after they submitted a memorandum of demands to the vice-chancellor, Professor Chris Nhlapo.

Salary negotiations began in November 2023 when unions tabled demands to CPUT management.

The unions are demanding a 12% increase across the board, or CPI (currently at 7.1%, according to StatsSA) plus a 5% salary increase. They are also demanding a R700 housing allowance increase, post-retirement medical benefits for all staff members and the amendment of the current promotion policies — the unions want staff with more than a decade of service to be moved to the next percentile.

“[The] repo rate has increased on seven basis points for this year and electricity prices have soared,” reads the unions’ demands.

“Load shedding has affected the poorest of the poor, food prices have increased dramatically and fuel prices have [also] increased.”

The negotiations went before the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and since no agreement has been reached, the CCMA shared picketing rules with the unions, giving a go-ahead to the action.

CPUT made three offers to the unions, which have all been rejected. These include:

  • Option 1: A 5.7% across-the-board salary increase with no housing allowance increase.
  • Option 2: A 5.5%  across-the-board salary increase plus a R100 housing allowance increase.
  • Option 3: A 5.3%  across-the-board salary increase plus a R200 housing allowance increase.

“At CPUT there is no gazetted category of people classified as ‘essential services’, thus, they cannot be treated as such during operations or strike action,” said the unions in a joint statement.

CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley said: “The only staff members who are precluded from participating in the strike would be essential staff members like Campus Protection Services. And the strike would be on a no-work, no-pay basis.”

She added that CPUT management had negotiated in good faith and, “our offer is reasonable in the current economic climate and with the future financial wellbeing of the institution in mind”.

Earlier this year, University of Cape Town staff almost went on strike after they faced a similar situation, but an agreement was reached on the eve of the planned strike.

Read more in Daily Maverick: UCT averts one strike, but threat of a second still alive after pay talks stall

As it stands, CPUT staff are likely to start picketing this week at the university’s campuses. DM


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