Unisa workers in Bfn take to the streets

Unisa staff members are demanding a 10% salary increase. Photo: Mark Steenbok.

Staff members from the University of South Africa (Unisa) affiliated to the Nehawu in Bloemfontein, have joined the countrywide strike over wage negotiations.

Approximately 20 workers came together this morning at the Bloemfontein campus to protest against the 6% salary increase offered by the institution. The workers are demanding a 10% salary increase after they initially demanded a 14% increase across the board, backdated to November.

Nehawu member and student administrator, Ilona Mamabolo, says they have been negotiating with the university since last year. She says staff members will take to the streets until the matter is resolved.

“It will never be fair that you (Unisa) increase your product but when workers demand an increase then it becomes a problem. This is a bread and butter issue, this is what needs to be resolved now. We cannot go to work and continue to serve when we’re not happy with our salary,” says Mamabolo.

Nehawu initially demanded a 14% salary increment in November 2016, plus the implementation of the Labour Relations Amendments [LRA] on temporary workers. This was declined by the university’s management, which offered 6% as a settlement.

Mamabolo goes on to say there is an imbalance between the number of workers and amount of students at the university countrywide.

“If we have about 8 000 students in Bloemfontein but about five workers who need to serve them, it puts a lot of strain on the workers. We are not afraid to work and we will deal with the other issues once we start working again. We will, however, take to the streets until the university comes up with something better,” says Mamabolo.

Earlier today the office at the campus was closed to the public.

-Mark Steenbok