Strikes force cancellation of exams at South African university

Union members at Fort Hare are pushing for bigger pay increases

July 18, 2018
Strike placards

A South African university has been forced to cancel its mid-year exams because of protests by staff.

The University of Fort Hare, in the Eastern Cape province, has faced disruption since June when members of the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) went on strike over wage increases.

University spokesman Khotso Moabi said that the university had called off its mid-year exams on 17 July because of disruption and noise caused by members of the union who were picketing near the campus, Times Live reported.

“We are consulting the South African Police Service on what would be an acceptable way for Nehawu to exercise their rights but allow the exams to proceed‚” Mr Moabi said.

The union wants a 10 per cent salary increase for junior lecturers and general staff and 8 per cent for senior lecturers, managers and professors.

The university had offered pay increases of 6 per cent, which it later upped to 7 per cent, but this was rejected.

Staff at another university in the region, Walter Sisulu University, also took industrial action over wages earlier this year, but their action ended at the end of June when the union and university management agreed on a 6.6 per cent salary hike, backdated to January.

A university spokesperson at WSU confirmed that students there would be able to sit their exams once “lost time had been recouped”.

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