With lectures scheduled to start next week, DUT staff continued to strike with a peaceful demonstration at Steve Biko campus on Monday, 5 February. Singing songs and chanting, the staff gathered at the campus food court while negotiations between labour unions (NEHAWU, TENUSA and NTEU) and DUT Management were mediated by the CCMA off site.
DUT’s Senior Director of Corporate Affairs, Alan Khan issued a statement on Monday saying that the deadlock on the salary increment which led
to a four-week long staff strike led DUT Management to write to the CCMA to invoke Section 150 of the Labour Relations Act, which allows independent mediation by the CCMA. The CCMA had set aside Monday for both parties to appear before it and an outcome was expected to be reached within one- two days.
The demonstration on Steve Biko campus which started at 8am did not disrupt student registrations, however many students were already fed up with the disruptions of previous weeks. “I have been trying to register for 14 days now,” said first year student, Collen Mathansi who explained that he had been unable to sort out a problem with his application because the relevant faculty office had been closed. “We don’t know what to do now. If an opportunity avails itself, I will go to another university,” added Mathansi.
Lectures are scheduled to start on 12 February however staff are adamant that they will not compromise and maintain the same demands. “We cannot commit to a date that lectures will begin until our demands are met,” said a DUT staff member who wanted to remain anonymous. At the Steve Biko campus demonstration, staff demands remained the same and strikers continue to insist on a 10% salary increase along with an added R400 to the existing R1 100 housing allowance as well as a R9 000 once-off bonus.
During negotiations on 31 January, DUT management increased their previous offer of a 5.75 % increase to a 6% increase for both salaries and housing allowances. Labour unions lowered their demands to a 9 % salary increase, a R300 housing allowance increase and a R6 000 once-off bonus or an 8.5% salary increase with a R200 housing allowance increase and a R9 000 bonus.
Management then offered a 6.25% increase for both housing and salaries. “The Exco of the University perused DUTís budget position and has had many discussions that the revised mandate of 6.5% would cause a R12 million deficit in the 2018 budget,” said Khan.
Strikers say that the university has money which is earned by the staff. The strike action has become a concern to a mother who was assisting her daughter with registration on Monday. “It hasn’t affected me yet, if the strikes disrupt my daughter’s studies I will feel very bad. The year is going quickly and I worry that my daughter won’t have enough time to get through her course work. I am working very hard to pay for these studies,” said the mother who wished to remain anonymous. DUT has expressed sincere apologies for inconveniences caused and thanked stakeholders for their patience and understanding.