Defend Truth

CAMPUS STRIFE

University of Pretoria welcomes end of Nehawu strike, but warns of sacrifices on resources

University of Pretoria welcomes end of Nehawu strike, but warns of sacrifices on resources
Nehawu members protest at the University of Pretoria on 6 March 2024 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu)

The Nehawu strike at the University of Pretoria has ended after the two parties reached a settlement agreement on Monday with workers accepting a 5.1% increase.

A settlement agreement between the University of Pretoria (UP) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) was signed on Monday after workers went on strike on 15 February in demand of an above-inflation salary increase and other benefits.

“[Nehawu] has reached an agreement with the University of Pretoria after a protracted strike characterised by highhandedness by the untransformed university management,” Nehawu said.

UP welcomed the settlement while acknowledging its impact on the university’s resources. 

“The university welcomes the settlement as it brings an end to the strike. While the increase will put some strain on our already limited resources, we are confident that it will enable us to implement the university’s financial sustainability plan,” said UP spokesperson Rikus Delport.

Nehawu Gauteng provincial secretary Mzikayise Tshontshi said, “Having been on strike for over three weeks, the union got a mandate from workers who are members of the union to participate in a [Labour Relations Act] section 150 facilitation by the CCMA which brought [the] two parties to the table to find a mutually acceptable way to end the strike.

“The outcome of the facilitation is what became the settlement agreement between ourselves and the employer. This outcome vindicated the union’s belief in collective bargaining and democratisation of the workplace. It involved compromises by both parties and has been accepted by members.” 

According to Nehawu, the agreement binds the employer to the following:

  • UP will positively adjust the salaries of employees in the bargaining unit (job categories 4 to 19) for the financial year 2024 by 5.1% effective from 1 January 2024, including back pay;
  • A once-off allowance of R1,200 for workers; and
  • The parties agreed that pay deductions for not working while on strike will be as follows: 60% will be deducted from vacation leave and the remaining 40% will be deducted over three months, effective from March.

The following issues will be deferred to the UP Bargaining Forum (UPBF) for finalisation:

  • Extended family funeral cover;
  • Long-service awards deliberations; and
  • Discussion about a 13th cheque.

“As Nehawu, we salute all our members and workers at UP for waging a militant relentless struggle by keeping our strike and picket lines strong as they were struggling for a living wage and better working conditions. We commend our members for the resilience they displayed,” Nehawu said. 

The strike took an ugly turn when Nehawu was accused of disrupting university operations and vandalising the institution’s property. At one point, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at striking workers. 

On 27 February, UP obtained a court interdict against striking Nehawu workers that imposed restrictions on activities that could disrupt the university’s operations, activities and academic programmes. 

It further mandated a ban on any violent or unlawful conduct in the pursuit of wage demands, including harassment, assault, prevention of services, interfering with traffic and damage to property.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Pretoria University strike — Nehawu denies ‘vandalism, disruption’ claims amid violent clashes

Nehawu said in terms of the settlement, workers were expected to return to work on Tuesday, 12 March.

The university said, “While celebrating this positive outcome, the university remains committed to financial sustainability amidst prevailing economic challenges and constraints faced by the sector and the institution. It is imperative to continue to avoid further strain on already limited resources.” DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options