University of Pretoria workers demand better pay and benefits

The strike entered its ninth day on Thursday with negotiations between union members and management still ongoing

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Workers at the University of Pretoria protesting on Wednesday for equal treatment of staff, a 10% wage increase and better working conditions. Photo: Mosima Rafapa

  • Hundreds of workers at the University of Pretoria have been protesting for wage increases and better working conditions.
  • The strike entered its ninth day on Thursday.
  • Workers, who were in-sourced in 2016, are demanding a 10% increase and a once-off R3,000 payment.

The strike by hundreds of workers at the University of Pretoria entered its ninth day on Thursday. They are calling for a 10% wage increase, a once-off R3,000 payment, and better working conditions.

This was articulated in a memo by the Academic and Professional Staff Association of SA (APSA) handed to the university last Wednesday.

The workers also demanded a 13th cheque and payment of study, maternity and paternity leave backdated to 2019, among other things.

These workers were in-sourced in 2016. They include cleaners, security guards, gardeners, and food service workers.

“Security personnel that used to work here, had 48-hour shifts while the newly in-sourced workers work 72 hours per week. The old food service workers had breaks and even got overtime pay,” said APSA general secretary, Boitumelo Ben Senokoane.

On Wednesday, as union representatives met with management, protesters were still seen at the campus entrance. No academic activities were disrupted.

Lesego Setsiba, a food service worker and deputy secretary of APSA said, “I only have 21 days of leave for the year. The old staff members get to go for recess while we remain behind. We have no choice but to work because of the few days of leave we have. This is discrimination.”

University spokesperson Rikus Delport confirmed that management is still in talks with the union to try and resolve the issues.

Delport said that the university was not able to provide the same benefits to the staff in-sourced in 2016 as it does to other employees because it would “put the university’s financial sustainability at risk”. He said workers are being paid “significantly more than the minimum monthly salary rates”.

“The university extended a number of benefits to in-sourced staff members from 2016 which significantly improved their benefits and conditions of service,” said Delport.

Delport also said that food service workers are entitled to maternity leave. He added that their demand for study leave is still under review.

The strike continued on Thursday morning.

Correction on 2022-02-21 09:16

The initial article incorrectly stated that the workers were asking for a R3,000 increase. In fact they were asking for a 10% increase and a once-off R3,000 payment.

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