ALTSA leaders break ranks

By Lisa Golden and Nandi Ndlazi
Photographs by Jay Caboz

Wits Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA) leadership accepted the terms offered by Wits management after last-minute negotiations last night but failed to inform some of their members of this decision. This left the Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) to strike by themselves today August 28 against Wits management.

This morning confused ALTSA members arrived at the picketing lines, unaware that their leaders had accepted an agreement with Wits management the night before. Some were confused and frustrated when they found out.

This is the second strike by the academic unions this month. They are demanding an increase in salaries for workers, an agreement to structure salaries around the 75th percentile, resolve issues with parking and provide a childcare facility for workers among other issues.

Ian Walters, and ALTSA member and an administrator in the Wits School of Arts, was unaware that ALTSA had backed out of the strike, and only found out when he arrived at campus in the morning.
“I’m staying on strike because I’m in support of NEHAWU and ASAWU. That was the original idea,” said Walters.

Adele Underhay, the president of ALTSA, was unavailable for comment, and some members of the union also couldn’t reach her.

David Dickinson, president of ASAWU said it was regrettable that ALTSA leaders had chosen to break ranks. “I respect the independence as a union and the decision of their leadership is what they must account for to their membership” Dickinson said.

Negotiations between the Wits Executive Council and ASAWU, ALTSA and NEHAWU was re-opened a day before the strike. Photo by Jay Caboz

The Wits Senate (the academic leadership forum) made a call to halt the striking unions “without further delay”. Photo by Jay Caboz

Fellow ALTSA members expressed their disappointment in their leadership’s acceptance of management’s offers. Barbie Pickering from the finance faculty said she didn’t know about their union pulling out at the eleventh hour and they only received the e-mail this morning.

“We went into this thing to support all the unions. We are not happy with our union leadership on that,” said Pickering.

The rally, which started at noon, had speakers that reiterated the unions’ demands. Carl Beaumont, an ASAWU member, congratulated the ALTSA members who turned up at the rally while fellow strikers applauded the group.

The Student Representation Council and the Wits Workers Solidarity Committee again pledged their support for the striking unions.

The final word from Beaumont was that the unions are prepared to strike again if their demands are not properly discussed and considered during negotiations.
nandi@witsvuvuzela.com
lisa@witsvuvuzela.com

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Standing in protest against violence in society

By Jay Caboz

Around 150 Wits staff, some in academic gowns, and students gathered outside the Bertha Road pedestrian entrance to observe South Africa’s national day of mourning on Thursday 23 August.

George Bizos, left, joins Wits registrar Kirti Menon, centre, and Asawu President, David Dickinson, in a march against violence. Pic: Jay Caboz

George Bizos, one of South Africa’s most distinguished human rights advocates joined the gathering together with Wits Registrar Kirti Menon, Prof Tawana Kupe, Dean of Humanities, and Prof David Dickinson, President of the Academic and Support Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU).

In a statement released by Prof Yunus Ballim, acting Vice-Chancellor and vice-Principal, the gathering was called as a public display from the University “against the ongoing violence gripping society” and to “encourage the public to stand up for social justice.”

The national day of mourning was declared by the South African government in memorial of the lives lost in the violence at Marikana and Pomeroy these past few weeks.

In commemoration of the lives of the 44 miners killed, students and academics stood on the pavement holding placards one of which said: “mourning all the victims of violence” as well as declaring the event as “our collective shame”.

A National Day of Mourning was declared by President Jacob Zuma. Memorials were held across the province and several streets in Johannesburg Central Business District were closed.

From Monday, the University has been flying its flag at half-mast also in remembrance of the lives lost.

Marchers line up along Jan Smuts Avenue in Braamfontein. Pic: Jay Caboz

Wits staff and students took to the pavements to protest violence in society. Pic: Jay Caboz

One student one vote Wits SRC elections extended- Jay Caboz


A student casts his vote during the voting period for the SRC elections this week. Voting hours were extended to allow for more students to cast their ballot for their candidates of choice. Students who voted were impressed by the campaigning of the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) and the Democratic Alliance Student Organisation (DASO).Campaigning tactics included posters, SMSs, door to door canvasing and other tactics.

Follow these links for more on the SRC elections

Akinoluwa Oyedele – Candidate claims election exclusion
A Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) candidate was apparently removed from the ballot list days before the SRC elections.

Zinhle Tshabalala – Witsies are indifferent about SRC elections
Less than 20% of Witsies generally vote in the SRC elections – and this week’s election is not expected to draw more than 23%, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Fencers parry their way forward – Jay Caboz

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The Wits Fencing Club has ended a four-year medal drought by coming home with 6 medals and a third place ranking from the Gauteng Fencing Association (GFA) tournament held in Johannesburg in early August.

Fencers Mikesh Harrilall (gold), Dean Grisillo (silver), Thomas Shamuyarira (bronze) and Wikus Koen (2 silvers in the U20 division and bronze) competed in the field to bring home their winnings.

“The tournament consisted of three categories Epee, Sabre and Foil. Traditionally we do well in the Epee category but weirdly we won medals in the other two. It’s not so bad considering we coach ourselves,” said Thomas Shamuyarira, bronze winner and chairperson of the club.

“The different categories demand different sorts of agility,” said Shamuyarira. “The Epee is for people who are taller and have a longer reach, the Foil is for people who are more agile and the Sabre is for people who are stockier and more powerful. The Sabre is the one most people know about, it’s where you see the fencers jumping with more physical movements.”

Mikesh Harrilall and Dean Grisillo fought each other in the Sabre final which lasted for nine minutes and ended with a score of 15-11. Harrilall is the first fencer to win a gold medal in any event for the club in over 4 or 5 years said Shamuyarira.

Harrilall only started fencing in his second year at Wits.

“My family all plays table tennis, when I joined the table tennis club in first year I watched the fencers across the room. I knew that next year I would do that. They just looked like they were having so much fun,“ Harrilall said.

Harrilall is set to begin his BSc Honours AccSci at Wits next year.

Shamuyarira explains that the hardest part of fencing is keeping fit. It makes it easier to concentrate toward the end of the bout.

“When you are fighting you are watching the sword and the opponent’s body language mostly. It is a mental game and you have to watch out when your opponent fakes a movement, that’s called a feint.”

The objective is to win by points. You have to initiate an attack to get points and make sure you don’t lose your advantage, or else your opponent will win a point by countering,” said Shamuyarira.

At the University Sports South Africa tournament, held in July, Koen also brought home an individual bronze and a team bronze medal (Koen, Thomas Shamuyarira and Alek Gallo). Overall Wits Fencing finished 5th out of 10 clubs competing.

For more links click here

Olympic dreams for 2016

Wits men seal the deal against Crusaders

Lopez has an objective

Tang Soo Do walks away with a 20 medal haul

Published in Wits Vuvuzela 20th edition, 23 August 2012

Standing in protest to violence in South African society – Jay Caboz

By Jay Caboz

Around 150 Wits staff, some in academic gowns, and students gathered outside the Bertha Road pedestrian entrance to observe South Africa’s national day of mourning on Thursday 23 August.

George Bizos, left, joins Wits registrar Kirti Menon, centre, and Asawu President, David Dickinson, in a march against violence. Pic: Jay Caboz

George Bizos, one of South Africa’s most distinguished human rights advocates joined the gathering together with Wits Registrar Kirti Menon, Prof Tawana Kupe, Dean of Humanities, and Prof David Dickinson, President of the Academic and Support Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU).

In a statement released by Prof Yunus Ballim, acting Vice-Chancellor and vice-Principal, the gathering was called as a public display from the University “against the ongoing violence gripping society” and to “encourage the public to stand up for social justice.”

The national day of mourning was declared by the South African government in memorial of the lives lost in the violence at Marikana and Pomeroy these past few weeks.

In commemoration of the lives of the 44 miners killed, students and academics stood on the pavement holding placards one of which said: “mourning all the victims of violence” as well as declaring the event as “our collective shame”.

A National Day of Mourning was declared by President Jacob Zuma. Memorials were held across the province and several streets in Johannesburg Central Business District were closed.

From Monday, the University has been flying its flag at half-mast also in remembrance of the lives lost.

Marchers line up along Jan Smuts Avenue in Braamfontein. Pic: Jay Caboz

Wits staff and students took to the pavements to protest violence in society. Pic: Jay Caboz

Published online August 22 and Wits Vuvuzela August 23, 2012.

Made the Nikon – I love Jozi competition

It’s always nice to see your photos make the paper.

Wits students Kirstin Buick (left) and Lebogang Mdlankomo (right) play in snow for the first time in their lives. After seeing it begin to fall down, they ran down ten flights of stairs abandoning their class to play in Braamfontein on the corner of Jorisson and Bertha Street. I took this on the street corner of as traffic was coming by.

One thing that struck me about the image was its emmotiveness. It was completely spontaneous and its so clear that you can see the joy on their faces. This was a real genuine moment thanks for sharing Lebogang Mdlankomo and Kirsti Buick

Rainbow March – Wits staff have had enough

The Wits academic staff union have pressed ahead with their planned strike today, after last-minute negotiations yesterday failed.
Members of the union, ASAWU, have gathered at the entrances to Wits main campus in small groups, holding signs that read “We love Wits, do you?” and “Stop imposing – negotiate.”

Member of ASAWU and Senior lecturer in the School of Mining and Engineering, Carl Beaumont, said,“Our aims for today are to get our message across to Wits University management, that staff have had enough. We’ve had enough of managerialism, we’ve had enough of imposed pay-rises and poor salaries. It’s something that’s been brewing for years, not something that’s just happened in 2012.”

David Dickinson, President of ASAWU (pictured above) said, “People have to stand up for their rights, and more importantly they have to stand up for the good of Wits University. We believe the management is running this university into the ground.”

Management announced a 7.25% increase for academic staff, but the Administration, Library and Technical Staff Association (ALTSA) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) have demanded a 9% increase.

ALTSA and NEHAWU, as well as Academic Staff Association of Wits University (ASAWU), also made non-wage related demands in a memorandum to management.

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The three unions demand:

– a 9% salary increase for support staff, to be paid at a higher scale at the 75th percentile of the tertiary education sector benchmark
– decent salaries to be given before performance regulations were initiated;
– a resolution of the dispute on shift allowances
– an agreement on sliding scales to advance equity
– the establishment of a childcare facility for Wits employees
– an end to overselling of parking permits in non-designated parking areas;
– an increase in individual research incentive
Nongxa said that Wits academics are missing the bigger picture in their fight for better pay and working conditions, in an article he wrote for Business Day last week.

A rally for staff is set to take place on the Library Lawns at 12:00.

Related articles:

School’s out: Wits lecturers on strike

Teacher’s in action over wage disputes

Wits staff protest against management

Fire blazes can be prevented Jay Caboz

By Jay Caboz, follow more on his photography page here

Gavin, who lives at number 15 Juweel Street, Jukskei Park, noticed that something was amiss after he hearing strange noises coming from his neighbour’s house. It was 4am but from his bedroom window it looked as if sunrise had happened already. The house next door, number 17 was on fire.

“I then heard the sound of the flames as the thatch caught fire. I phoned the fire department and went outside to start wetting my own thatch roof with the garden hose.”

By the time the firemen arrived the flames were two meters high.

Firemen struggled with the fire. They needed more water but the only fire hydrant was on the next street. Four more trucks and a portable water truck were called in to handle the blaze.

Until they came, firemen controlled the fire by wetting the border areas of the house. Other neighbours also began to wet their thatch rooftops in case the blaze spread.

“The house had been empty for a couple of months.” said Gavin to the other neighbours gathered around the street. One of them was watching the fire with her coffee mug still steaming.

Despite rumours of squatters on the property firemen said they found no evidence that anyone had been in the house when the fire had started.

Click here for photo essay

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Unanswered Questions

Stories like these are a regular occurrence in South Africa’s wintertime. Winter is dry in Joburg, and cold, according the city of Johannesburg these are the two leading causes that lead to fires in households in the city. People turn on their heaters and braziers, and carelessness can lead to devastating fires.

Bringing home reality http://sawdis1.blogspot.com/2012/06/real-burning-issue.html

The following is taken from an article written by Camilla Bath, Deputy News Editor for Eyewitness News, in Johannesburg.

“Fire is a terrifying thing. It tears through homes, guts buildings, destroys property and devastates the lives of those who survive it. Many don’t.”

Years ago, as a field reporter, I covered the story of a fire at an electrical sub-station in Johannesburg in which a man died. Authorities suspected the victim had been living in the sub-station and had inadvertently touched a live wire, starting the blaze late at night.

Early the following morning, I caught a glimpse of his blackened body through the painted slats of an air vent. It is an image that has stayed with me in vivid detail, one I wish I’d never seen: the badly burnt corpse somehow frozen in time, crouching, one hand outstretched, his face formless, its features seared away. Perhaps worse than that stiff figure was the smell of burnt flesh, unexpectedly sweet and cloying.

Every time I hear or read about another fatal fire, I’m taken straight back to that scene.”

Follow more of her article here -http://sawdis1.blogspot.com/2012/06/real-burning-issue.html

So what can be done?

The City of Johannesburg has outlined some Winter safety tips

  • Use only SABS-approved electrical and/or cooking apparatus
  • Experience has shown that in informal settlements – though this can also be the case in brick and mortar structures – people tend to disregard even the smallest detail regarding fire safety by warming themselves using primus stoves and braziers (mbawulas), only to fall asleep and their homes go up in flames
  • Do not leave candles burning unattended
  • Alcohol should be consumed in moderation
  • In case of emergency, call 10177 or 112
  • Children should be closely monitored
  • Fire sources such as heaters, stoves and irons should not be left unattended.
  • Boxes of matches and cigarette lighters should be stored safely

Everyone is welcome to volunteer at a fire station in Johannesburg of his/her choice. Life skills acquired through such volunteering can be used in life-saving situations. A well-trained volunteer can perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on victims of drowning and smoke inhalation. They can also train members of their own communities to be life-savers.

Other sites of interest 

Firewise

Dangerous areas

Preventing veld fires

ER 24