The Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. File Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. File Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

After more than a month‚ the beleaguered Durban University of Technology (DUT) is still no closer to reaching an agreement with striking staff over salary increments — and it has‚ again‚ been forced to delay the start of the academic year.

In a last-ditch attempt to resolve the protracted impasse with unions‚ the university turned to the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) this week.

The academic year was due to start on Monday‚ but the breakdown in negotiations means the start of lectures is being pushed to February 12.

Management is offering a 6.5% increase in basic salary and a 6.5% housing allowance‚ without a once-off bonus, but striking unions are demanding an 8% increase and a R350 increase in the housing allowance.

Late on Thursday, the university released a statement saying negotiations remained deadlocked and that lectures would start on Tuesday February 13.

"The DUT is disappointed to confirm that after four days of mediation by the CCMA‚ the salary negotiations with the three labour unions remain deadlocked‚" said Alan Khan‚ DUT spokesperson.

He said that despite the ongoing strike‚ 18 000 students have been registered for the new academic year. "These students want to get into class and commence with their studies. The DUT will‚ in consultation with our student representative council‚ ensure we help students register over the course of the next few days."

Khaya Xaba‚ National Health Education and Allied Workers Union spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal‚ said the strike would continue because the mediation process had collapsed, noting, "It’s a bad situation."