UNISA students, workers, protest in Pietermaritzburg

Mediator appointed in wage dispute

Photo of police truck in road

Police dispersed protesting students in Langalibalele Street in Pietermaritzburg. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

By Nompendulo Ngubane

4 February 2020

Students protested, blocking streets with burning tyres, and employees at the University of South Africa (UNISA) went on strike in Pietermaritzburg on Monday .

Employees closed the university gates and only allowed students who were writing examinations to enter. Outside the gates, students blocked Langalibalele Street. Police dispersed the students.

Secretary of the Student Representative Council Andile Ndaba said students were protesting about exclusions from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). “We will continue protesting until we get answers,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) on UNISA’s Pietermaritzburg campus, Mxolisi Mkhize said wage negotiations between the union and the university had deadlocked.

He said workers wanted a 10% increase and the university was offering 6%.

“We lowered the percentage to 9% but the employer also dropped to 5.5%. Our 9% is a compromise but no agreement has been reached. We are still willing to negotiate. Once the employer signs an agreement we will be able to attend the students. We will even work overtime,” said Mkhize.

“An independent mediator has been appointed to mediate between organised labour and the university to try and find a solution and end the strike,” said UNISA communication and marketing manager Siyabonga Seme.