[DEBATE] : ukzn strike press release and pamphlets
Pithouser at ukzn.ac.za
Mon Feb 6 13:49:45 GMT 2006
Press Release: ATTEMPTED GAGGING AND INTIMIDATION AT UKZN
Since the serving of notice on the University of KwaZulu–Natal by the 4 UKZN Unions (COMSA, NEHAWU, NTESU and UNSU) that we will embark upon strike action from 6 February 2006, staff at the University have been subject to a deluge of misleading and intimidatory messages.
A message from the office of the Executive Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, Dasarath Chetty, “requests” staff to refer all inquiries from the media about the strike action to his office. As Jimi Adesina (President of the South African Sociological Association) pointed out in an open letter, this “request” is tantamount to a gagging order on University staff. This falls directly in line with the treatment that staff have experienced over the past two years from the University Management. It also coincides with the University’s refusal to allow a peaceful march on campus to deliver a memorandum to the Vice-chancellor.
Another message from the office of Dasarath Chetty claims that staff who only partially participate during the strike action will receive no remuneration for the entire duration of the strike. While reprehensible (and in violation of section 67 (3) of the Labour Relations Act), this statement does not surprise us. Once again, the heavy hand of the University Management seeks to stifle staff expression.
A further message claims that the channels of communication are always open to staff. Given that the certificate authorising strike action was granted on 16 January 2006 in the presence of senior members of the University Management, we are at a loss to explain why we have received no approaches from the University Management to avoid the strike action.
We wonder how these statements from the University Management serve to further the Vision and Mission Statement of the University of KwaZulu–Natal which, among other things, seeks to “ensure effective governance through democratic representation, accountability, and transparency”.
ISSUED BY THE FOUR UKZN UNIONS
COMSA – COMBINED STAFF ASSOCIATION
NEHAWU – UKZN BRANCHES
NTESU – NATIONAL TERTIARY EDUCATION STAFF UNION
UNSU – UNIVERSITY OF NATAL STAFF UNION
Contacts: Kesh Govinder, Fazel Khan, Khethinkosi Mabaso
Information to Students
Strike action may not seem to be a very welcoming activity as you arrive either as new or returning students. Why should the staff take such action and how does this affect you? We, the staff, are deeply concerned about the quality of education that you will or are receiving; the kind of experience that you will have at University and feel that in this regard the cause of the staff is also the cause of the students. Below is a list of some of problems that have led to the action and how they affect you as students:
• Current conditions being created at the institution mean that staff find their working conditions becoming ever more difficult – increased demands on their time (more classes, greater numbers of students, and more research) even whilst support systems around them are becoming more problematic. This affects the quality of teaching and of engagement at all levels that you will receive. Management is working to remove many of the staff benefits – changing sabbatical leave-related conditions (sabbatical leave allows lecturers to engage in, and update their research and so continue to be at the cutting edge of their disciplines), remission of fees (so staff can engage in continuous professional development thus becoming better experts, teachers and administrators) etc. This will affect the quality of the staff already here, and the quality of staff that will come in the future, impacting on the quality of the teaching you receive and on the quality of your degree. Already many good staff have left, or are in the process of leaving.
• There is a growing pressure towards retrenchment or termination of contracts for many of the contract workers, tutors, secretaries, cleaners and technicians in order to save money. Contract workers at UKZN currently work in extremely poor conditions. This will mean there are fewer people to help you with your problems, to ensure efficient administration or a pleasant learning and living environment.
• Problems with the University Budget in 2004 and 2005 resulted in chaos and many temporary teachers and tutors who support disadvantaged students could not be employed.
• There is concern that the 2006 Budget has been drawn up in such a way that it seems the University is in serious deficit. This allows them to go to the government and say that they must retrench staff and increase student fees in order to have enough money to run the University.
• There is a concern that whilst you as students pay more, you will be taught in bigger classes with fewer tutors and fewer support staff, all of which will make your life and your lecturer’s life harder as well as diminishing the quality of education that you receive.
• Whilst they present a picture of deficit, and hard times the management have celebrated their inauguration with a lavish and costly party and voted themselves huge salary increases and bonuses. This means that we are all paying the costs of keeping them in their high powered jobs, at the expense of quality education and an institution that we can be proud of.
• The Management has consistently refused the involvement of staff and students in negotiations and in developing and building the new institution.
The University Management knew about our strike action on 16 January 2006 but have refused to engage with us – how much do they really care about students?
Support the struggle for a truly just, transformed, transparent and participatory University.
ISSUED BY COMSA, NEHAWU, NTESU and UNSU
INFORMATION TO STAFF
Dear members of staff of UKZN
We have all been receiving various emails from the University Management (via the office of the Executive Director of Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, Dasarath Chetty) with misleading, intimidatory and factually incorrect information. We wish to reassure you of your rights and expose the ignorance and heavy-handedness of the University Management.
Firstly, the strike action is protected. You cannot be dismissed nor can you be disciplined for engaging in this legal strike action. However, the “no-work-no-pay” rule can be enforced in terms of section 67 (3) of the LRA. This means that the University can withhold remuneration for any period during which you are not at work and participating in strike action. However, remuneration can only be withheld for the actual period you spend participating in the strike action. Your remuneration cannot be withheld for periods in which the strike action is on, but you are at your post. The email from Dasarath Chetty claiming otherwise is incorrect and serves merely as another attempt to intimidate staff into not participating in the protected strike action.
We appeal to all line managers at the University to help us frustrate the attempt to enforce the “no-work-no-pay” rule. The University Management cannot deduct remuneration from striking staff unless you help them. Please support our strike and thwart the efforts of the University Management in this regard.
Secondly, we have all received a “request” to refer all media inquiries about the strike action to Dasarath Chetty’s office. As Jimi Adesina (President of the South African Sociological Association) pointed out in an open letter, this “request” is tantamount to a gagging order on University staff. In fact, Jimi Adesina goes on to chastise and lambaste Dasarath Chetty for engaging in actions reminiscent of the former “Bantustans”. It is reassuring to note that our strike action has been noted in the wider community and that we are receiving support. As you have no doubt read and heard, we have ignored this “request”. The 4 Union strike action task team has appointed Kesh Govinder, Fazel Khan and Kheta Mabaso as spokespersons for the four Unions.
During picketing on Tuesday (H/C), Wednesday (Westville) and Thursday (Pmb), please follow the instructions from the marshals (who will all be wearing distinctive T-Shirts and armbands). Our adherence to the picketing rules is crucial – we must not give the University Management any excuse to undermine our strike.
Together we will overcome this oppressive management.
Stand together and stand firm – we shall overcome.
ISSUED BY COMSA, NEHAWU, NTESU and UNSU
Please find our disclaimer at http://www.ukzn.ac.za/disclaimer
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