Protesting MUT staff members block access to the campus
MANGOSUTHU University of Technology staff members have once again downed tools. The workers, led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), embarked on a protest on Monday after they objected to the delay in the implementation of their settlement agreement with management.
Late last month, the union told The Mercury that they had reached an agreement with the university about salary increases, bringing an end to a three-week protest. The workers then resumed work on April 19.
Initially, the union had demanded an 8% salary increment, while the university had offered 3.3%. However, the union said the employer moved from 3.3% to a 5.8% increase and they reached an agreement. They also agreed that on the housing allowance issue, it would increase, gradually, by R250 a year. The union had previously wanted the housing allowance to increase to R3 500 a month from R1 500.
The university confirmed that an agreement had been reached but said the offer was subject to approval by the university’s council. It is believed that last week, the union followed up with the university regarding the agreement and found that no progress had been made.
On Monday, the staff responded by blocking the university campus’ main entrance, preventing staff and students from entering the institution.
Nehawu eThekwini regional secretary, Prince Mthalane, confirmed the incident, saying the unrest was due to workers’ anger when they realised that the university had made no progress on the agreed settlement.
“The university has played us. We had an agreement, had everything signed and halted the strike. They told us that the settlement is subject to council approval and the council has yet to come with a decision.
“We view the delay as disrespect by the university to our members. Our members saw it fit to embark on the strike again and bring the university to a standstill. Nothing is operating at the university,” he said.
He said they vowed to disrupt the operations of the university until the council approved and signed the agreed settlement.
“We are going to be mobilising our members to make sure that the university is ungovernable. No work will take place. We are planning a meeting with the university management to seek an explanation for the delay,” he said.
The university’s acting vice-chancellor Marcus Ramogale said the protesting staff went to some offices to disrupt work and intimidate other employees. “In the light of the serious nature of the allegations, I have decided to place on precautionary suspension those staff members who have been identified as being connected to this misconduct,” said Ramogale.