TUT management, unions meet to resolve impasse

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pretoria - The management at Tshwane University of Technology and the striking unions will be meeting on Friday to attempt to resolve the current deadlock over salaries in the hope of restoring normality at the university.

The University's Executive Management Committee decided on Tuesday to suspend all activities at the Pretoria campus including classes and registration with immediate effect until further notice.

This decision was taken in view of the increasingly volatile situation at TUT over the past few days caused by intimidation of non-striking staff members by some members of the unions as well as their acts of violence, which was becoming a threat to the safety of students, staff and property, which resulted in the decision.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) and the National Union of Tertiary Employees of South Africa (NUTESA) embarked on a strike tow weeks ago demanding an 11 percent increase across the board and a reversal of the downgrading of workers so that they can also receive the 11 percent increase.

TUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Errol Tyobeka said at the time a comparison of higher education salaries indicates that TUT salaries are on average 10 percent to 15 percent ahead of the higher education sector in total.

Professor Tyobeka said the university was in negotiations with the labour unions, made an offer to staff of a total increase of 12.5 percent made up of a 10 percent general salary increase across the board for all staff except capped members.

Two percent to address annual notch increases and backlogs and 0.5 percent will go towards a once-off payment to capped staff, he said.

University's spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said the discussions on Tuesday on various scenarios resolved in an agreement to continue with the unilateral implementation of the 2009 salary offer as agreed on previously and announced to the university community.

"The meeting took note of the signed agreement with NUTESA on Voluntary Arbitration and therefore does not see its way open to embark on another strategy that might counter the outcomes of the said Arbitration.

"Voluntary Arbitration was viewed as a fair and objective process of resolving the disputed issues and would be legally binding to all parties," Ms Ruyter said.

She said the management will, however, continue to engage NEHAWU in an attempt for them to consider Voluntary Arbitration.

Ms de Ruyter said during the meeting, the Executive Committee of Council also confirmed the mandate of TUT's management to continue to engage the unions to resolve the impasse, whilst also acknowledging that capping is an agreed upon principle.

The meeting underscored the necessity to speedily resolve the current impasse to enable the University to restore normality as soon as possible.

Web registration off campus will be ongoing for senior students who are in possession of pin numbers and who do not have any block on their accounts.

Students who want do enrol for a B Tech degree and who have not yet been approved by their academic department, should contact the department upon the re-opening of the University.

The final closing date for registration will be extended with the new date announced upon the re-opening of the University.