By the very nature of who we are as an organisation, NTEU is always on the side of the vulnerable and marginalised in society. As such, we reaffirm our stance that the struggle for Quality, Affordable Higher Education is a national imperative.
The NTEU President, Mr Xolani Tom, initiated a conference call to Mr Misheck Mugabe, the President of the South African Union of Students (SAUS) to get a direct briefing on the developing situation across various campuses. The NTEU General Secretary, Grant Abbott, was also on the call. The conversation was positive, and the SAUS President thanked us for engaging directly with him.
After this discussion, it is apparent that the demands of students are not unreasonable – in fact, they are an extension of the continued struggle for academically deserving students to access Higher Education. Furthermore, the approach is in fact measured.
Mindful of past unrests on campuses, we have received messages and calls by some branches that there is a concern for safety on campuses; and in particular whether the leadership was apprised of developments. In this regard, President Tom stated, “I am requesting the branches to assess the situation on campus each morning and make a call on the safety to members, which the National Leadership will back. While we cannot instruct members to stay away, we reiterate that we would rather deal with cases than coffins.”
“We impress upon the Minister the urgency of what is needed here so that things are not escalated. We also call on University Managements to demonstrate restraint and understand that students’ grievances are not with the universities, but with government, in particular, the Ministry of Higher Education,” said Tom.
In addition the General Secretary will facilitate the drafting of memos in collaboration with our federation partner, FEDUSA the Ministry to place our position, concerns and areas of support on record and to the Universities of South Africa (USAf) to request that they guide management structures to be reasonable and even handed in their approach to these critical matters.
NTEU is a politically non-aligned trade union organizing exclusively in the Higher Education sector and is aligned to FEDUSA, the largest politically non-aligned trade union federation in South Africa.