Fort Hare unveils catch-up plan in wake of longest strike

University of Fort Hare, Alice campus.
University of Fort Hare, Alice campus.
Image: File

Additional lecturer support and extra exam times are some of the repercussions of the University of Fort Hare’s (UFH) longest strike.

The strike – which started on June 12 when 500 academic and non-academic staff affiliated to Nehawu downed tools demanding a 12% wage increase and improved benefits – finally ended on August 3.

After eight weeks of turbulence and failed negotiations in the CCMA and skirmishes in court, university management and the union finally settled on a 7% increase and a once-off payment of R3,000 to each protesting worker.

The strike resulted in the midyear exams, which are being written this week, being halted and having to be postponed twice. University spokesperson Khotso Moabi said there was other damage incurred during the strike.

“At this point it is difficult to arrive at a figure [cost of damage] as an assessment has just started. However, we did incur damage to two residence rooms. There was damage to windows and there was theft of copper cables at the staff centre during the strike,” he said.

Nehawu UFH branch secretary Mzi Lingela on Wednesday told the Dispatch that the union was in full support of the catchup plan.

One of the agreements was to support the catch-up plan. As we speak we are back at work and trying to catch up with the work that was lost.

“One of the agreements was to support the catch-up plan. As we speak we are back at work and trying to catch up with the work that was lost,” said Lingela.

Moabi said the underlying principle in the process was to rebuild the university’s academic programme as a collective responsibility of all associated with the programme.

“As the university we believe that the academic year is eminently salvageable with the time that remains between August 6 and December 14,” said Moabi.

The revised schedule would now take 11 weeks instead of the 12 that was originally allocated before the strike, he added.

The university has also added an extra two weeks for exams.“Our deans and lecturers have committed to doing everything possible to ensure additional support is given to our students and to ensure quality teaching and learning,” said Moabi.

The 2,400 students who missed four days of exams during the strike were back writing this week.

The second semester will finally commence on August 13.

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