Student heads to the Great Hall to study at Wits  University, Johanesburg. Picture: SIHLE MAKU. © The Times
Great Hall at Wits University, Johanesburg. Picture: SIHLE MAKU. © The Times

WAGE negotiations between academics and management at the University of the Witwatersrand could be nearing resolution with the Academic Staff Union of Wits University (Asawu) saying yesterday it had tabled "major concessions" to the university’s management.

Deadlocked wage talks led to academics and support staff at Wits going on strike last week for the second time in a month, raising concerns of further disruption of teaching and learning.

Asawu and the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) had embarked on the one-day strike after failure to agree about implementing increases benchmarked with the rest of the academic sector. They also sought increased research funding.

Wits management had expressed concern about the long-term financial stability of the institution and offered a 7.5% rise for academics, a change in the pay cycle to January-December from July-June, and an independent review on the sustainability and effectiveness of the benchmark.

Asawu chairman Prof David Dickinson said yesterday the union would agree to a three-year implementation of the benchmark, allowing the institution time to adjust financially.

Asawu has maintained that Wits had a budget surplus of R100m last year and reserves of R1.8bn in investments and could afford its demands.

Wits vice-chancellor Prof Loyiso Nongxa said management welcomed the announcement to engage "in negotiations in good faith". He said the R100m surplus was kept for academic vacancies that needed to be filled.