ASAWU Statement on Health & Safety

Colleagues,

We are deeply concerned about staff and student health and safety during this period of conflict across our campuses. Although most academic staff are keen to assist in ensuring that the academic year is not lost, many academic staff are upset with the heavy police presence on campus. We have been receiving reports from members about how these circumstances are affecting their efforts to help implement the resumption of the academic programme.

We note that teaching is taking place, but under extremely challenging conditions, particularly for those lecturing in venues proximal to the clashes between protesting students and police. We also note that some lecturers are reporting an extremely low turn out for their classes. We would like to note that it would be unjust for any student who does not attend class at this time, for whatever reason, to be academically disadvantaged on that basis.

The Executive Committee has reached out to management to address two issues in relation to the instructions that we have received to continue to hold classes in this current environment. The first is the practical question of access to emergency exits in buildings that seem to be on lock down. We have been assured by management that all fire/emergency exits and routes do have a member of campus security present to unlock any doors should this be required. We advise that if you are working in a building with locked doors to acquaint yourself with the relevant colleagues from Campus Control so that you can locate and access them should there be a need to have those doors opened

Secondly, we have engaged management on the matter of teaching in this moment, particularly in sites where running battles between protesting students and police take place. We share colleagues concern about safety but also about finding venues locked or empty. We are awaiting a response on how to address this matter.

The ASAWU Executive would like to reiterate that members who do not feel they can teach due to health and safety concerns, to contact their HOD/HOS and cc in ASAWU (asawu@wits.ac.za) seeking this matter to be addressed. If concerns are not addressed please contact us and we will advise on the way forward.

The ASAWU Executive shares your concerns in this moment and welcome any feedback you may have in this regard. In particular, we are aware that many members are deeply worried about the heavy police presence, and ask you to share your concerns on this matter by writing to us so that we can keep a record.

 

ASAWU Executive

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