FEM at UFS pledge their solidarity to workers

#FeesMustFall protests at the University of the Free State (UFS) in October 2016. File photo: Mark Steenbok

The Free Education Movement (FEM) at the University of the Free State (UFS) has pledged their solidarity to workers who are possibly facing suspension for participating in the student protests over free education.

The leadership of the movement yesterday (Monday, 24 October) handed over a memorandum to the Acting Vice Chancellor, Nicky Morgan.

They believe that the university management cannot penalise the workers that showed their support to students in the fight for free education earlier this month. The workers allegedly participated in the protests with students on 13 and 14 October according to the FEM.

The list of demands that were handed over on campus include: workers that are on suspension, pending an outcome of a disciplinary hearing, must return to work immediately. The workers must also receive back-pay upon their return to work.

One of the leaders from FEM, Gcinumuzi Radebe, says the approximately 80 to 100 outsourced workers from all three UFS campuses must be insourced immediately. He further says the FEM are currently engaging with different stakeholders to continue with free education protests. “We have identified the struggle as a societal issue and we are engaging with outside stakeholders to take the struggle forward,” says Radebe.

Meanwhile, the university announced on its website that the graduation ceremony that were set to take place in April next year will now take place in June or July. This comes after the suspension of the academic programme and closing of campus due to ongoing protests about fees and free education.

The university says a new timetable for the main examinations will be communicated on Friday 28 October. The examinations will take place between 24 November and 14 December.

A timetable for the additional examinations that is scheduled for between 4 January and 16 January 2016 will be published on 4 November.

University spokesperson, Lacea Loader, says teaching at honours and undergraduate level will resume from next week. However, in an effort to ensure that the academic programme does not get affected, the teaching will not take place in classes. Teaching will take place through delivery that consists of a combination of printed and recorded lectures. Study materials and learning aids will be provided by the university through the Blackboard.

-Mark Steenbok