Unisa strike closes campus, frustrates students

19 April 2013 - 02:58 By AARTI J NARSEE and SIPHO MASOMBUKA
An aerial view of the University of South Africa (Unisa) Pretoria campus.
An aerial view of the University of South Africa (Unisa) Pretoria campus.
Image: Supplied

With exams only weeks away, frustration weighed on Unisa students as a strike on the university's campuses nationwide entered a third day yesterday.

Intimidation of non-striking workers prompted the university to close its Sunnyside, Pretoria, campus. Strikers blocked the entrance, preventing workers and students from entering.

The entrance to the main campus, in Muckleneuk, Pretoria, was also blocked but the university said this had affected only vehicles.

Unisa cancelled tutorial workshops until further notice and students could not study or consult tutors at the Sunnyside campus.

Unisa spokesman Martin Ramotshela said the campus had been closed as a precautionary measure but he expected it to be open today.

"We sent a communique [on Wednesday] to students notifying them that planned tutorial workshops to prepare for exams have been cancelled until further notice," Ramotshela said.

Students complained about delays in receiving the results of tests and assignments, and not being able to access campuses.

Student Mashudu Mulaudzi said: "I don't think they have taken the students into consideration. All of this is affecting students immensely. Exams are two to three weeks away, but no assignment results have been sent to us."

Unisa's Ramotshela said exams were due to start in May.

"If there is no resolution to the dispute by [then] . the university will put measures in place to ensure that there are no disruptions to the examinations," he said.

On Tuesday, workers belonging to both the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union and the Academic and Professional Staff Association struck, demanding a salary increase of 11.7%.

Ramotshela said Unisa principal and vice-chancellor Mandla Makhanya had returned yesterday from a business trip and that negotiations to end the strike had started.

Nehawu said workers would strike until their demands were met.