Staff Strike Forces DUT To Delay The Start Of The Academic Year

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An ongoing staff strike at the beleaguered Durban University of Technology has forced the institution to delay the start of the academic year by a week.
Lectures were due to kick off on Monday, 5 February. However, the impasse between management and staff over wage increase demands has resulted in the university moving the commencement of academic activities back a week, to Monday, 12 February. The decision was made on Thursday.

Despite management and three labour unions going back to the negotiating table on Wednesday, no common ground was reached.

The unions were initially asking for 10% a salary increase, R400 increase on their monthly housing allowance and a R9,000 once-off bonus. But on Wednesday, after caucusing, the unions dropped their demands to an 8% increase in basic salary, R350 housing allowance and no once-off bonus.

DUT’s final offer was a 6.5% increase for both basic salary and in housing allowance – and they would not offer a once-off bonus.

“Labour was not prepared to revise their position,” DUT’s spokesman Alan Khan said on Thursday. He said the intervention of a mediator now needs to be explored.

“The unions have rejected the university’s request for the CCMA or another independent mediator to assist.

“While protestors have tried to disrupt student registration, the university remains open. Students are registering online.”

Khan said the university had urged unions to concentrate on resolving the salary deadlock rather than focus on allegations directed against the vice-chancellor professor Thandwa Mthembu.

“Our combined objective should be to resolve the current salary crisis so that more of our students can register quicker and our academic programme could start soonest,” Khan added.

The unions – the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), in particular – have called for Mthembu’s removal.

“We demand strong leadership at DUT in order to end the current impasse between the union and management,” Nehawu said in a statement on Wednesday.


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