The Durban University of Technology has noted with concern the continuing staff strike and the allegations directed against the Vice-Chancellor Professor Thandwa Mthembu. Whilst the claims are not true, these allegations and other issues raised against the Vice-Chancellor by the Unions, will be addressed by Council and the University respectively. DUT wishes to urge the Unions to rather focus on finding a solution to the salary deadlock, which has a negative impact on our academic programme for 2018. The 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.

2018 Academic calendar

The University has taken a decision to delay the start of the 2018 academic year by a week. Lectures will now commence on Monday, 12 February 2018.

This will give those students who have not registered as yet, another week to either register online (http://www.dut.ac.za/student_portal/student_registration/online_registration) or to register in person, on campus in Durban or in the Main Hall at the DUT Riverside campus in Pietermaritzburg. Students who need assistance regarding 2018 admissions can call, 0313735005 during office hours.

Salary impasse

No agreement was reached following the resumption of salary negotiations between Management of the Durban University of Technology and the three labour unions (NEHAWU, TENUSA and NTEU) yesterday (Wednesday, 31 January 2018).

DUT would like to highlight the following key points regarding the current industrial action undertaken by staff and the subsequent negotiation processes.

23 January 2018 Salary Negotiations

  • The Unions demanded a 10% increase on basic salary, R400 increase on the monthly housing allowance and a R9000 once-off bonus (14th cheque).
  • The University proposed two options:
  1. 5.5% increase in basic salary, R200 increase in the monthly housing allowance, no once-off bonus (14th cheque).
  2. 5.75% increase in basic salary, 5.75% increasing in the monthly housing allowance, no once-off bonus (14th cheque).

Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and the three unions walked out of the negotiations.

The Unions then wrote to the DUT Council requesting their intervention. The EXCO of Council met on Thursday 24 January 2018, revised the mandate on condition that further negotiations would be be managed by an independent mediator. The Unions rejected this appeal from EXCO of Council.

31 January 2018 Salary Negotiations

  •         DUT Management admitted that they did not have an open ended mandate in the negotiation process and that both parties need to engage in good faith.
  • Management tabled a new offer of 6% increase in basic salary and a 6% increase in the monthly housing allowance with no once-off bonus (14thcheque). These bonuses are no longer once-off but have turned recurrent as they are demanded from year to year and without any performance management system being in place.
  • The three labour unions were then given time to caucus after which they presented the following options to Management:
  1. Option 1: 9% increase in basic, R300 increase in housing allowance, R6000 once-off bonus (14thcheque).
  2. Option 2:8.5% increase in basic, R200 increase in housing allowance and R9000 once-off bonus (14th cheque).
  • Management told the Unions that the gap was still too wide, as the mandate of Management was not any closer to where the Unions had pitched their two options.

Management then increased their offer to 6.25% increase on the basic salary and a 6.25% in the monthly housing allowance.

  • The three unions adjourned for another caucus and then returned with a new position of 8.25% increase in basic salary, a R400 in the housing allowance and R7500 once-off bonus (14thcheque).

Management then highlighted to labour the context of earlier representation made, in terms of sustainability issues of the University and the fact that labour was not making substantial movements. The insistence by the Unions that DUT agree to a once-off bonus payment or a 14th cheque was hampering the negotiation. Management did not have a mandate from the DUT Council to offer a once-off bonus or 14th cheque as part of the salary negotiation.

After an adjournment for both parties to consult, the Unions and Management returned with offers without prejudice:

Union’s Offer:

  • 8% increase in basic salary and R350 housing allowance without a once-off bonus (14thcheque).

DUT Management Offer:

  • 6.5% increase in basic salary and 6.5% in housing allowance without a once-off bonus (14thcheque).

Beyond the above positions, labour was not prepared to revise their position. The second option that needs to be explored is the intervention of a mediator. Currently, the Unions have rejected the University’s request for the CCMA or another independent mediator to assist.

DUT Management would like to assure its stakeholders that they will continue to work towards ensuring that the functions and work of the University continues and that the safety and protection of students, staff and University property remain a priority. Whilst the protestors have tried to disrupt student registration, the University remains open. Students are registering online via the DUT website and more students are registering on campus in Durban and at the Riverside campus in Pietermaritzburg.

DUT wishes to express its sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused and appreciates the patience and understanding that has been demonstrated by all DUT stakeholders  at this challenge time.

Media Statement By Alan Khan, Senior Director: Corporate Affairs At The Durban University Of Technology