Waive “no work no pay” principle, say striking UCT workers

The union members downed tools for a full day on Tuesday after negotiations with management failed

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Members of the University of Cape Town Employees Union (UCTEU) are on strike. They are demanding a 1.5% increase to 2023 salaries and a 7.5% increase to 2024 salaries, among other demands. Photos: Ashraf Hendricks

Workers from the University of Cape Town Employees Union (UCTEU) didn’t report for duty all day on Tuesday. This comes after negotiations with the university management broke down over the weekend.

About 150 employees marched from Sarah Baartman Hall to Bremner Building to picket outside UCT’s administrative offices.

Professional, administrative and support service (PASS) staff have been on strike since Thursday. The union is demanding a 1.5% increase to 2023 salaries and a 7.5% increase to 2024 salaries. The union also wants the immediate payment for performance awards for June 2022 to May 2023. They also want the university to implement a unified bargaining forum, among other demands.

The employees are technical and scientific officers, and administrative employees working in a wide range of payclasses.

According to the union’s deputy president Tsebo Litabe, the university had backtracked when it made changes to the draft agreement sent to the union executive on Sunday evening. The union is waiting to meet with the university again, he said.

Litabe said that they’ve asked the university to waive the “no work no pay” principle but it refused. Updating its members on Monday, the union said that this was a “non-negotiable” point and it would only sign an agreement once this is resolved.

Litabe said that the strike has been fully compliant with picketing rules. “We haven’t done anything wrong because we do know the next person who is going to have to clean is our member; a fellow staff member,” he said.

“We don’t wish to be here. The campus is vibrant … we want to be here for our students, we want to serve the community of UCT. Management must do their part. We don’t like what is happening,” he said.

Union member Shahira Laws, who works in the undergraduate office responsible for admissions and registration, said the strike has caused a backlog in registrations that are being processed.

“We don’t want students to suffer … It’s a difficult thing to do,” said Laws. “I think it’s necessary for [the university] to see that the admin staff do play a part in making the wheels turn. And when we stop, it stops.”

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola said, “The engagements continue, and good progress has been made. Details will be communicated to the UCT community on resolution of the issues.”

“UCT recognises and respects the fact that engagements are carried out in good faith and guided by the principle of confidentiality. As such, the university wishes to not engage via the media,” he said.

Shahira Laws, who works in the undergraduate office at UCT went on strike with her fellow University of Cape Town Employees Union (UCTEU) members on Tuesday.

TOPICS:  Labour

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