Wage protest erupts at Rhodes grad week

The pickets coincided with some of the university’s graduation ceremonies and cars ferrying graduates to and from ceremonies at the 1820 Monument slowed to a trickle as picketers danced on either side of Lucas Avenue.

GRADUATION MESSAGE: Rhodes workers greet graduates and their parents with a pay protest message. The demonstration brought traffic to a standstill in Lucas Ave at lunchtime. They are protesting Rhodes’ offer of 5% instead of the unions’ demand of 7.5% Picture: ADRIENNE CARLISLE

Both the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at Rhodes this week notified the university they would embark on legal industrial action after negotiations officially deadlocked.

The unions planned lunch-hour pickets for yesterday and today.

Some graduates and their families hooted in support of the picketers while others wound up their windows and drove by looking angry.

Next week, the unions intend marching to the university’s Great Hall where a memorandum will be handed over to management.

Rhodes said in a statement it respected their right to participate in legal industrial action.

Nehawu and NTEU have rejected outright management’s 5% salary adjustment for 2017. Both unions want a 7.5% across-the-board increase.

Rhodes vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela has called the offer a “bitter pill to swallow” given inflation, but warned that there was a serious risk to the sustainability of the institution if it increased the current deficit budget to fund salaries.

Sporting posters such as: “More work, less pay, no way!”, picketers vowed they would be back in the road again today.

Adrienne Carlisle – DispatchLIVE

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