Picture: UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG
Picture: UNIVERSITY OF JOHANNESBURG

Hundreds of members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will embark on strike action over salary discrepancies at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Friday.

UJ spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen told Business Day that they had received a strike notice from the union. 

Esterhuizen said the management recognised Numsa's demands, adding, however, that the demands had far reaching implications “which will place the current and future sustainability model of the university at significant risk”.

Esterhuizen said the university acknowledged and respected Numsa’s right to demonstrate peacefully, “as long as there is no disruption to academic and administrative activities and the safety of students and staff is not placed in jeopardy”.

The legal principle of no work no pay applies to members who embark on the strike action. Picketing activities are only allowed in demarcated areas across UJ’s campuses.”

The industrial action will affect over 700 workers including security guards, cleaners and support staff.

In January 2018 Numsa embarked on a strike at Wits University in support of demands for higher wages and a ban on labour brokers.

On Thursday Numsa JC Bez regional secretary Oupa Ralake accused UJ of violating the principle of equal pay for equal work, saying the grading system was unfair and the union wanted it overhauled immediately.

He said Numsa members were forced to work extra hours without being paid because of claims by the management “that workers owe the university their labour”.

“This is rampant exploitation and it must be stopped immediately.” Ralake said their other grievance pertained to medical aid, saying staff employed in 2016 were not on the same medical aid as the other employees.

“To make matters worse, the university makes no contribution to their medical aid, but it contributes to the medical aid of [the] other staff. This is totally unfair.”

He said Numsa had raised these issues with management but that the institution had elected to demonstrate “total disregard for workers and their suffering. They have no interest in dealing with these crucial issues.”

Ralake said the industrial action starting on Friday would be indefinite.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za