It has been over a week since over UNISA staff members downed tools across the country, heading on strike. Over 4000 staff members and lecturers across seven regional campuses are striking, demanding an increase in salary of 9%. However, the university has thus far proposed a 6% increase.
The strike, of which many of the members belong to NEHAWU as well as the Association for Professional Workers Union of South Africa, has impacted student’s ability to apply and register for their qualifications.
The university has since urged prospective students to conduct their applications and registrations via their online portals. The university has since extended both the registration and payment dates to 7 February 2020.
Dr. Mbusani Netshitomboni, UNISA spokesperson, spoke to the media, stating that the university recognizes that students find it hard to register for their qualification due to the striking action. Some students may not have internet connectivity available to them, leaving them with no option but to register at their nearest UNISA campus.
However, he implored prospective and current students to register online rather than at campuses. This is despite it being too early to make a complete assessment of the impact at the registration level.
At the same time, similar protest action has taken place by UNISA students. This is due to many students not receiving funding from NSFAS due to poor academic performance.
Andile Ndaba, UNISA’s Student Representative Council in Kwazulu-Natal, raised concern that it’s unclear what’s meant by ‘poor performance’.
Despite students meeting the academic threshold of 50%, they were still excluded from receiving an NSFAS grant, said Mr. Ndaba. The strike has, in turn, caused delays in the registration process.
One reason for the hold-up in the registration process has been students being unable to complete their registration due to delayed NSFAS payments. Mr. Ndaba urged the point of UNISA students not treated as equals compared to students from other universities.
Siyabonga Seme, UNISA’s Communication and Marketing Manager, stated that UNISA management is aware of the student demands. Solutions are currently being looked at to resolve the current crisis.
Due to the striking action, no services are currently available at the UNISA KZN offices. However, the university remains open for students looking to register for their UNISA qualification in 2020.
*Update: The university has brought in an independent negotiator to reach a settlement between the university and the strikers. This comes after UNISA staff members rejected a new 6.3% increase offer from the university and in response, countered with an increase of 8.9 – 9% increase in salary.
Also Read: UNISA Registration 2020
Updated: 03 February 2020