Bargaining engagements with UCT Employees Union (EU)

11 April 2023 | Dr Reno Morar

Dear colleagues

In January 2023, I wrote to share an update relating to salary increments for academic as well as professional, administrative support and service (PASS) staff at the University of Cape Town (UCT).

I communicated then that management had signed an agreement with the Academics Union over salary increases for 2023 and exercised the option to implement discretionary increases for PASS staff. I now write to update you further following recent developments relating to PASS staff in pay classes 7–12.

In March 2023, the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) issued an “advisory award” in a matter between management and the UCT Employees Union (UCTEU). An advisory award, unlike an arbitration award, has a non-binding effect on any party in a dispute.

The dispute referred to the CCMA by UCTEU related to bargaining for PASS staff in pay classes 7–12, in which UCTEU held the sole bargaining rights.

As part of the advisory award, the CCMA recommended that the parties engage in further wage negotiations only for 2023. Although the advisory award is non-binding, UCT management has committed to implement the outcomes in the spirit of maintaining good labour relations.

The 2023 bargaining process for academic staff has already been concluded.

UCT will therefore bargain separately with UCTEU for PASS staff in pay classes 7–12 in line with the recognition agreement signed with UCTEU and in compliance with the advisory award. UCT had not totally refused to bargain with UCTEU. UCT management has resolved to form a single bargaining forum so that bargaining for pay classes 2–12 could be undertaken in a single forum as opposed to separate fora as was previously the case for PASS staff.

Notably, UCT has given UCTEU notice terminating the current recognition agreement but restored all other recognition rights in pursuance of forming a single bargaining unit for PASS staff. The advisory award states that “parties thus have a duty to bargain in respect of the peremptory provisions contained in the agreement up until the notice period expires”. Key to note is that this expiry period lapsed on 23 March 2023, and the binding effect of the recognition agreement has lapsed.

UCT’s commitment to the establishment of a single bargaining forum for PASS staff has been encouraged by the advisory award, which states that “inclusivity of all pay classes into a single bargaining unit could be to an advantage of all the parties. Structures should be put in place to manage the process and timelines of such negotiations”. The CCMA has indicated in the advisory award that parties should pursue the concept of a single bargaining unit for the 2024 bargaining cycle.

UCT’s commitment to abiding by the advisory award is aligned with management’s objective to maintain smooth labour relations, workplace harmony and orderly collective bargaining as it moves toward realising its objectives for UCT’s Vision 2030.

UCT management remains committed to apprising staff of developments in respect of the bargaining process and will do so from time to time as is appropriate.


Dr Reno Morar
Chief Operating Officer

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