UCT says talks are in place to avert planned staff protest over wages

The employees have resolved to down tools next week over wage demands. UCT's academic union wants at least 6%, compared to the institution's offer of a 3% pay increase.

University of Cape Town's upper campus. Picture: © Dmitrii Sakharov /123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - The University of Cape Town (UCT) says it would do everything in its power to avert a planned protest by academic staff.

The employees have resolved to down tools next week over wage demands, as a new academic year is set to begin.

This is the first workers’ strike in the history of one of the country's top universities.

The UCT Academics’ Union (AU) has described the institution’s offer of a 3% hike as insulting.

It says its members want an increase of at least 6%, in line with inflation.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola says activities at the university will continue as planned.

“All university activities are scheduled to continue as planned. The executive will continue working hard to ensure that parties do find one another in pursuance of a reasonable collective agreement.”

Moholola also says management remains committed to resolving the impasse.

“The executive reiterates its commitment to resolving any issue relating to bargaining engagements with the AU…and further values and respects the relationship with AU as with any of the other unions on campus. There is an ongoing process to deal with the issues that have arisen and the executive is confident that it will yield a favourable outcome soon.”

The looming strike comes as tertiary institutions prepare to reopen next month.

The union said the institution's offer of a 3% pay increase was insulting.

Kelly Moult, said, on behalf of the union, that they are demanding a wage increase of at least 6%.

"The Academics' Union's expectation is that management will return with an offer that is in line with an increase from our competitor institutions and that comes with a plan to return UCT academics to the benchmark set by our pay policy."

She added that academic staff at other universities are receiving salary increases of at least six percent.

The union hopes to down tools next week according to Moult.