Striking workers shut down health sciences university for third week

Striking workers shut down health sciences university for third week


Pretoria – The Senate and the office of the registrar at Sefakho Makgatho Health Sciences University may be forced to look into restructuring the academic calendar of the university as striking workers continue to shut down operations for the third week running.

This as the university management and workers affiliated with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) have been deadlocked over salary increases and other benefits since May 10.

University buses and cars parked outside along with burning tyres at the entrance of the university’s Ga-Rankuwa campus have become a regular feature of the turmoil brewing between the stakeholders.

Dr Eric Pule, the university spokesperson said they were dismayed that the strike action had continued for a third week as it affected the academics at the university negatively.

Pule said the university management had attempted to engage the union leaders on Monday however they refused management the platform and remained adamant for a 5% salary increase or nothing else.

Despite the hesitance to engage, Pule said the management had gone back to try to consult other relevant stakeholders including the university council on how to find common ground with workers.

“We need to find a way forward because we can’t continue like this as students are losing precious time especially for things like their practicals and other academic assessments.”

“We are still going to engage the union leaders and hopefully we would have reached a consensus by the end of the week to resume the academic calendar.”

Gladys Malema, general-secretary for the Nehawu branch at the university agreed that they had engaged the vice-chancellor in terms of persuading the management to move where they were.

Malema said however as the parties could not find an agreement or way forward, the workers had decided to continue disrupting the university’s activities.

“The vice-chancellor said he would engage council, management and only then would he come back with the proposal from the other stakeholders.’

“We want all our demands met because workers are struggling to make ends meet. Everything from petrol, electricity and food costs are too high, so for us to accept the university’s offer would end only end up disadvantaging our workers.”

Malema stressed they had been more reasonable as they had moved their demands from 12% to 5%.

Meanwhile Pule said although the university was worried about the lost academic time, the Covid-19 pandemic had prepared the university with the onset of predominately online teaching.

He said however should the university lag behind, the Senate and office of the registrar at the university would have to look at restructuring the university academic calendar to make up for lost time.

Pretoria News

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