Strike at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University enters second week

NEHAWU is demanding a 6% pay increase; management initially offered 3.5%

By Mosima Rafapa

17 May 2021

Photo of burning tyres at a hospital entrance

Activities at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University remain suspended as workers burn tyres at the entrance and strike for a 6% pay increase. Photo: Mosima Rafapa

A strike by over 300 workers at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria, has entered its second week, disrupting the academic programme.

The workers, affiliated to the National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) downed tools on Monday last week. They were demanding a 6% pay increase, while management had offered 3.5%. In a memorandum last Thursday, they also demanded a once-off payment of R2,500.

SMU NEHAWU chairperson Mulaudzi Tshifhiwa said that Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Mbati had on Saturday created the wrong impression that the union had accepted a 4% increase.

“We have not even deliberated on the offer,” said Tshifhiwa.

Workers started burning tyres at the university’s entrance last week Tuesday. They were still burning tyres on Monday morning – proof that the workers had not agreed to 4% said Tshifhiwa.

“We are not going back to work. Last week was just a warm up. Comrades, we are not going to back down,” SMU worker Tshepo Lechaba told the strikers.

Addressing workers on Friday, Nehawu deputy chairperson Themba Khumalo said management needed to also attend to the demands of students.

SRC President Thato Maseko confirmed that a memorandum of demands was submitted over the weekend. Issues include renovations of student residences, the implementation of a Gender Based Violence policy and the establishment of the Gender Equity Office.”

Dr Eric Pule, spokesperson of SMU, did not respond to our request for comment.