Rhodes University has seven days to respond to demands – NEHAWU

Union says daily, workers, who remain the most exploited, remain committed to ensuring that university functions properly and excels

NEHAWU presents wage and transformation demands to Rhodes University management

26 April 2017

The National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] yesterday presented the Management of the Rhodes University with a list of demands after the deadlock of wage negotiations between the two parties.

NEHAWU is demanding the following:

- The improvement of salaries by 7.5% across the board.

- An increase of the housing allowance from R1 000 to R1 500 per month, across the board.

- The improvement of the danger allowance for CPU, gutters and others who receive this benefit to R1 500 per month.

- Job evaluation to be done for grades 6 to 17.

- The abolishment of grades 1, 2 and 3; grades to start at grade 4. Those who do not possess the requisite skills must be assisted by the university to obtain those skills and/or qualifications within the necessary timeframe.

- We demand R450 transport allowance for those who are receiving this benefit.

- The long service award must start at 10 years of service, the award must be R1 000 and the worker, who has displayed their commitment, must be automatically elevated to the next grade.

- We demand a merit increment, to be shared equally, for all employees.

Our demands are justified by the following:

1.   The university has employed a Director with a salary of R1.9 million yet they claim poverty

2.   All universities that have insourced still managed to give workers increases of between 7% to 10%

3.   All other institutions pay their staff at 60th percentile while Rhodes pays at 25thpercentile

4.   Rhodes has received grants like any other institution from government and 60% of the students are on self-funding, while 40% depend on NSFAS and bursaries

Over and above these financial demands by workers, we also call on the management to deal with the longstanding issues of transformation in the University. Even after twenty three years into our nascent democracy the wage gap between black and white staff members is still wide like in the pre-1994 era.

We therefore demand an immediate equalisation of benefits to bridge the gap between staff members of different races at the university. We demand that the university management commits itself to developing the skills of its workforce and pledge to use inflation as a standard for wage negotiations.

As NEHAWU, we call for the immediate end of outsourcing at the university. We call on the management to collaborate with us in identifying all workers who are outsourced and insource them within six (6) months. The university must pay special attention to improving the lives and skills of its committed workers. We therefore demand a pool of programmes, especially short courses, to be made available for those workers who wish to further their studies. Bursaries for workers and their children to study at the University must be set at 100%. 

We demand more worker representation in the decision-making bodies of the university including Council, Senate and Faculty Boards. The university must be truly representative and prioritise its weakest members. We demand that the name of the University be changed to that of a female person, someone whom all at the university can identify with.

As NEHAWU, we also demand that those who are obstacles to the transformation of our university, especially those who have landed the university into financial ruin through their inability to do their jobs, must go. We demand the immediate firing of Dr Iain L'Ange who is the Executive Director responsible for Infrastructure, Finance & Operations Division.

We have given management seven (7) days as an ultimatum to respond to these demands. Should these demands not be addressed sufficiently in the next seven (7) days, the union will be left with no option but to prepare for a full-blown strike at the university.

Daily, workers, who remain the most exploited at this university, remain committed to ensuring that the university functions properly and excels as a world class institution. We take this place seriously because it is here that we believe our children will secure for themselves a better future. At the toughest of times, workers have stood by management.

Yet our top management is bloated and if there must be restructuring then we demand that restructuring commence at the top. Our university must show its commitment to its workers. Rhodes University has no future, if it is not transformed. We therefore call upon the management of Rhodes University to take our demands seriously as we take the academic project seriously.

Issued by Khaya Xaba, Media Liaison Officer, NEHAWU, 26 April 2017