Workers protest at University of Pretoria
Kyle Cowan | 2017-05-19 13:23:46.0
Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).
Image by: Halden Krog
Police officers fired stun grenades and teargas to disperse protesting University of Pretoria workers on Friday‚ videos posted on Twitter show.
The workers‚ most dressed in National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) t-shirts‚ are demanding salary increases as well as a 13th cheque.
Police r shooting at peacefully protesting workers on campus. What is @UPTuks & @MbalulaFikile saying about the students safety? #UPprotest pic.twitter.com/WPv8SHvkaR
— #FreeNapoleonWebster (@Kabelo_blacknes) May 19, 2017
Reports quoting the regional Nehawu branch chairman Joseph Makhasa said the workers were planning on disrupting the university’s open day tomorrow (Saturday) as well if their demands were not met.
Three protesting workers have been detained by police.
The university said in a statement that classes were continuing as normal‚ despite the strike taking place mostly at the main gate of the Hatfield campus.
“During the course of the morning they [picketing workers] broke through a fence to enter the campus‚” the statement read.
“Police on scene fired stun grenades and teargas to disperse protesters. No injuries were reported‚ however three have been arrested.”
Management said salary negotiations deadlocked after the union refused UP’s offer of a 7% general salary increase effective 1 March 2017‚ as well as an additional R3‚000 gratuity payment. “The matter was then referred to the CCMA‚ who issued a certificate of non-resolution‚ which permits the union to embark on a protected strike‚” it said.
The university said it believed the offer to be reasonable given current economic conditions and it would mean workers would be earning above the industry average. “However‚ we will not compromise our own financial sustainability.”
It added: “The University respects workers’ right to protest‚ and appeals to them to do so within the ambit of the law.”
The university expects the strike to continue until negotiations are complete.