As tertiary institutions across the country prepare to reopen soon, academic staff at the University of Cape Town are preparing to embark on strike action for the first time in the institution’s history.
The institution’s academic staff is preparing to down tools this week over an ongoing wage increase dispute with UCT management.
In a vote taken by the institution’s Academics’ Union (AU), which represents the majority of academic staff at the institution, 87% expressed support for a three-day strike, with potential further strikes until the matter is mutually resolved.
This follows the union’s near-unanimous rejection of the 3-per cent wage increase offer in a vote held In December last year.
The union says the 3% offer is an insult adding that the institution’s bargaining team has failed to return with a revised offer despite having ample time to do so.
“We believe that we have done absolutely everything possible to avoid coming to this point, but management has left us no choice and we are therefore seeking to exercise our rights to engage in industrial action,” says the union.
In a statement released by the union last week, the AU’s leader Professor Kelly Moult states:
We find it hard to accept that UCT, as one of the premier universities in South Africa, is unable to match pay increases offered by other higher education institutions, The insult of a 3% pay offer is further compounded by the university having budgeted for an R183 million increase in student financial aid.
Members of the union have demanded a 6% increase, in line with the inflation rate.
“Consumer Price Inflation in 2022, according to data released from Statistics South Africa this week, was 6.9%. The universities that UCT has historically used as comparators in setting pay increases have been able to offer their employees at least a 6% increase.”
Moult says the union has signed the strike rules and has lodged them with the CCMA and is now waiting for the CCMA to issue their strike certificate.
Once the strike certificate is received, the union will give the university 48-hour notice and move forward with the strike.
Meanwhile, UCT vice-chancellor, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, says the institution will do everything it can to avert the strike by academic staff after wage negotiations deadlocked.
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