The Branch Executive Committees (BECs) of the two recognised trade unions, NEHAWU and NTEU, at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) jointly called for a boycott of the Vice-Chancellor’s farewell event scheduled yesterday, 7 December 2017. This followed the notice given by NMU management that they intend to terminate the 2012 Conditions of Service and Benefits Agreement (CoS) on 31 December 2017.
This unilateral action by management has placed all staff members in a position of great uncertainty and anxiety at a time where they were due for rest, to recuperate from what has been one of the most tumultuous and trying years at the institution. This is felt to be extremely unfair, particularly due to Management’s failure to notify staff of their intention to terminate the CoS some six months ago.
Instead, it has simply been sprung on staff (and the Unions) at the last minute, with an utter disregard for the negative impact such a notification would have on already demoralized and exhausted people.
A significant part of staff members’ stress derives from the refusal of Management to recognize that the parameters for annual salary increases contained in the CoS are binding. This refusal has resulted in salary negotiations dragging on, leaving staff to contend with the increasing pressures of inflation while they wait to receive the remuneration that they deserve; remuneration which far exceeds the paltry R4000 once-off bonus offered by Management - an insulting attempt to force an end to the 2017 salary negotiations.
Given this, the two BECs believed it to be in profoundly poor taste for Management to have expected staff to sit through the triumphalist pageantry of the Vice-Chancellor’s farewell event. An event designed, at least in part, to create the image of a benevolent University leadership in touch with the needs and concerns of its staff members, and to give the impression that all is well at the institution. In short, for Management to have invited staff to attend such a lavish event, straight after informing them that austerity measures require the termination of their CoS Agreement, was shameless.
On account of the above, Thursday 7 December 2017 was declared White Thursday, with staff members called to wear white in solidarity and to boycott the Vice-Chancellor’s farewell event.
Prof Derrick Swartz bid farewell by empty seats
Swelling the ranks of those at the event would have sent the message that the current problems staff members are facing – on account of Management’s decisions – are minor matters, instead of the immensely serious bread-and-butter issues we know them to be.
Together we stand
NTEU NEC Marketing
Branch Chair (NMU)
T: 041 504 2268
NTEU General Secretary
FEDUSA Provincial Executive Committee Chair (EC)
C: 083 439 6363