18 July 2018

South Africa: Fort Hare Exams Suspended As Nehawu Strike Over Wages Continues

Students at the University of Fort Hare have been unable to write their exams due to a strike by members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union.

On Tuesday, mid-year exams at the university were disrupted after Nehawu members protested outside exam venues at the Alice and East London campuses.

The union is demanding an increase of 8% and a notch progression of 1%, while the university says it can only offer 7.5%.

Nehawu provincial secretary Miki Jaceni said, until the university came up with a better offer, the strike would continue.

"We are convinced that there is a way that the university can look into this situation, in terms of the monies issued to the university [by the Department]," Jaceni said.

Fort Hare University spokesperson Khotso Moabi said a meeting between the institution and the union had deadlocked last week.

He said, if the university was to meet the demands of the workers, it would infringe upon a directive from the Department of Higher Education.

"Meeting Nehawu demands would firstly put us at odds with the Department of Higher Education, in terms of their directives of salary costs not exceeding 62% of the operational budget. If we were to accept the 8%, we would be infringing the directive of the department," he said.

Moabi added that, while exams remain postponed, the university would meet with the Student Representative Council to discuss their concerns.

"We are also meeting with the SRC, because it would appear at face value that they want to support the Nehawu strike. We are going to meet with them and find out what exactly their challenges are," Moabi said.

Last month, students at the university were forced to wait for the second semester to complete their exams, after lecturers and other staff members embarked on strike action.

Moabi said examinations would remain suspended for the safety and wellbeing of students, as the institution continued to engage with the union.

Source: News24

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