By Tamutswa Mahari
Tuesday afternoon, on 4 September, the mass meeting led by #FeesMustFall activist Athabile
Nonxuba, held at Graca Lawns served as the announcement of the 48-hour notice sent to the UCT executive by the South African Liberated Public Sector Workers Union (Salipswu). The intention of embarking on lawful protests from Wednesday 6 September at 6:30 am was made clear, and those in attendance showed their support for the movement. Both students and staff were gathered for the meeting. The meeting served to raise the following issues:
· Working hours
· Job descriptions
· Overtime pay (with many workers being paid for 4 hours whilst working 7 hours)
· The allowance of pregnant womxn to work their shifts
· The fact that worker struggle is an integral part of student struggle
· The procuring of a certificate to legally strike for the first time in history
· The issue around bonuses
· Previous #FeesMustFall protests
Following the mass meeting, VARSITY sat down with Athabile Nonxuba and a worker representative for an
interview pertaining the pending strike. Both Athabile and the worker representative stated that the strike will not be disruptive for the time being, but there will be a shutdown of operations in which workers are involved, such as catering and cleaning services. The main purpose of the strike will be for UCT to meet the demands regarding workers on issues raised at the mass meeting. While it is not set to be disruptive, the strikers are willing to take further action if there is no response to demands.
Although the strike was scheduled to commence on Wednesday morning, the UCT executive requested that protesters adhere to the 48-hour notification period thus moving the set date to Thursday 7 September. On Thursday, protests did not commence due to an interdict raised by UCT on the technicalities of the workers’ failure to provide a specific time and location for the protest. A mass meeting was held in Jameson Hall that afternoon, at which the public was informed both parties had re-entered negotiations. During the mass meeting, union workers stated that if negotiations and their demands were not satisfactorily dealt with, they would issue a new strike notice: effective in 48 hours. Negotiations continued to Friday afternoon and there has been no strike notice issued by the workers.
Despite UCT executive assurance of negotiations going well, one trade union gave notice of proposed strike action to commence on Friday the 15th of September. UCT emphasises that they are taking adequate measure and will make adequate contingency plans to ensure that the strikes do not disrupt the academic year.