Police fire stun grenades at protesting UP workers
Police officers fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesting University of Pretoria (UP) workers on Friday‚ as videos posted on Twitter show.
The workers‚ most dressed in National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) T-shirts‚ are demanding salary increases as well as a 13th cheque.
Reports quoting the regional Nehawu branch chairman, Joseph Makhasa, said the workers were planning to disrupt the university’s open day on Saturday as well if their demands are not met.
Three protesting workers have been detained by police.
The university said in a statement that classes are continuing as normal‚ despite the strike taking place mostly at the main gate of the Hatfield campus. "During the course of the morning they [picketing workers] broke through a fence to enter the campus‚" the statement read. "Police on the scene fired stun grenades and tear gas to disperse protesters. No injuries were reported‚ however three have been arrested."
Management said salary negotiations deadlocked after the union refused UP’s offer of a 7% general salary increase effective March 1 2017‚ as well as a R3‚000 gratuity payment. "The matter was then referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration‚ who issued a certificate of non-resolution‚ which permits the union to embark on a protected strike‚" it said.
The university said it believed the offer to be reasonable given current economic conditions and would mean workers would earn above the industry average.
"However‚ we will not compromise our own financial sustainability," UP said. "The university respects workers’ right to protest‚ and appeals to them to do so within the ambit of the law."
The university expects the strike to continue until negotiations are complete.