Durban strikers cry foul

06 March 2013 - 03:00
Durban University of Technology. File photo
Image: Times Media Durban University of Technology. File photo

Campus security guards at the Durban University of Technology clashed with protesting staff yesterday morning.

Unions representing administration and academic staff in the week-long strike over a salary increase, accused university management of deploying security guards in riot gear to block protesters from picketing.

"We are on a protected strike and are very peaceful. The management is not negotiating in good faith. Security attacked our members with tear gas," said Milton Estrice, the chairman of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union for the university. University spokesman Alan Khan said a security management report said protesters were trying to move into a lecture room.

"We deployed security to stop protesting staff from interfering with lectures and non-striking workers," said Khan.

Francois van Zyl, the chairman of the National Tertiary Education Union of South Africa for the university said the unions believed the offer of a 7% increase was unreasonable, because average increases at universities of technology in South Africa were between seven and 8.5%.

Khan countered that almost 70% of the institution's income was spent on staff remuneration, which was higher than the average 58% to 62% spent on universities across the country.

"Staff remuneration is not a management function: it is for the university council, the highest body. The vice-chancellor met union officials and promised to take the matter to the council."

Staff at the Pietermaritzburg campuses are expected to join the strike today.