The protests against Unisa by members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) stemmed from the Universities’ decision to suspend and subsequently terminate the employment contracts of five employees. NEHAWU approached the Labour Court to challenge the universities decision to terminate the contracts the five former employees.
Unisa explained that the suspended employees violated the conditions of their suspension when they engaged in an unlawful protest. They add that the employees engaged in unlawful conduct including the disruption of graduation ceremonies, use of pepper spray, malicious damage to property and assault.
On Thursday, the Labour Court dismissed NEHAWU’s application. The court also found that the labour union failed to define the court’s jurisdiction. Unisa has noted and respected the outcome of the application brought before the court.
The university said, “Whilst noting and respecting this outcome, Unisa Management wishes to reaffirm its stance that it is not against NEHAWU or any labour union operating within the university. The Management is on record as having protected the rights of labour to organise, protest and agitate for the rights and issues affecting workers”.
The university added that NEHAWU has been picketing since 3 November 2021 and they have not interfered with the pickets. However, the university says their decision to intervene was taken once the industrial action turned violent. They subsequently took steps to protect life and property.
“Unisa is an important public institution in the imagination and lives of the people of Africa. The Management hopes that NEHAWU will reconsider its violent and disruptive stance”, declared the university.