Striking DUT staff protest outside the Vice Chancellors office in Durban as Mi7 security block access to the building. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN
Striking DUT staff protest outside the Vice Chancellors office in Durban as Mi7 security block access to the building. Picture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Staff at the embattled Durban University of Technology (DUT) will continue with industrial action, despite the commencement of lectures being less than a week away.

The staff strike entered its third week on Monday‚ following an impasse between employees and management over salary increases for 2018.

Three unions — the National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union‚ the Tertiary Education National Union of SA and the National Tertiary Education Union — urged staff not to return to work until management conceded to its demands. Lecture were due to start on February 5.

They had also called for vice-chancellor Thandwa Mthembu to step down‚ saying they had no confidence in his leadership.

University management said that student debt and rising infrastructure costs made it unfeasible to meet union demands — including a 10% wage increase.

The university wanted a professional mediator to take negotiations forward‚ claiming that the process was toxic.

Milton Estrice‚ spokesperson for the staff representative on the DUT crisis committee‚ said the strike remained indefinite "until management comes back to the negotiating table".

"The 10% was a demand and it needed to be negotiated. We can’t negotiate if we can’t meet. We’ve been told that the other universities have concluded their negotiations.

"The 6% for DUT staff was not a negotiated offer. DUT management was never open to negotiations‚ they came with a fixed mandate all the time. We have to continue with the strike‚ we have no other option.

"Management may say its business as usual‚ but if you have more than 60% to 70% of staff on strike‚ it’s going to have an impact on operations‚" Estrice said.

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