ANGRY Walter Sisulu University (WSU) staff members went on the rampage yesterday, burning tyres at the College Street and Chiselhurst campuses in protest actions as part of a strike action.
The protesters included staff from Butterworth’s Ibika campus and the Buffalo City campus.
About 100 protesters at Buffalo City’s College Street campus yesterday burnt tyres. The action started on Monday.
Protesters said they had many grievances with the institution, the main ones being salary increases and absorbing contract workers, some of whom had worked for the institution since 2008.
“These people do not take us seriously. Last year we demanded a 15% salary increase but they gave us a once-off 5% increase and promised there would be negotiations towards the end of last year but that never happened. “This year the were supposed to give us an increase but they ignored us,” said one employee. A notice was reportedly issued last week t to the institution’s management informing them of the strike actions but Buffalo City students said they had not been informed of the strike action. “We want our money; the management can’t expect us to continue doing a good job while they are not paying us well. The cost of living is going up,” added another employee.
A meeting between National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) representative and WSU”s representatives was held yesterday at the Chiselhurst campus. But an angry crowd of employees gate-crashed the meeting singing struggle songs and demanding their grievances be attended to urgently. After causing havoc at the meeting the employees started another fire on the campus grounds. Police were called to calm the situation.
First-year information technology student Siphe Bangindawo was among many disappointed students who arrived only to find there were no classes taking place. Institutional Student Representative Council member Anele Nkoyi said students had not been notified of the strike. “The labour indicated verbally they were having problems with the employer we had to go to campus and inform students. “It affects us directly because this is a very short semester We need time to prepare for exams.” Nkoyi added. Yanga Zicina from Queenstown’s campus said they had been notified of the strike and students were struggling as a result. “The registration process was not finalised and now, with this strike, this means we must wait longer and we were already starting with tests,” added Zicina.
WSU spokesperson Angela Church said: “I can confirm labour union Nehawu has issued an intention to the office of the administrator to strike An official strike has not been declared. The affected sites included Buffalo City, Butterworth and Zamakulungisa campuses. Operations are normal at Nelson Mandela Drive. The issue at stake is the 2013 salary increase relating to an agreement which was made in October,” Church said. Despite the strike action, administrator Professor Lourens van Staden reportedly issued a letter to Nehawu stating that 2013 salary demands had to be submitted for speedy attention. “Any loss of teaching time is highly regrettable we’ve lost two days already. It’s a serious problem and we have to find ways to solve this as soon as possible,” Church added. About 1200 lecturers and administrative staff were on strike and it was not clear when lectures would resume as the workers said they would not go back to work until management had com up with a “positive” outcome — firstname.lastname@example.org