By: Bandile Ntshingila
Cape Town – Workers at the University of the Western Cape held a picket on Thursday calling for the insourcing of cleaners and gardeners at the university.
The South African Liberated Public Sector Workers Union (Salipswu) joined the worker’s call for insourcing with full benefits including better working conditions, a decent living wage, pension fund scheme, medical aid and job security.
This was the third attempt in two months by the workers at getting the attention of university authorities. On 12 October, a similar picket was organized but no one from management came out to receive the memorandum from the workers, the second attempt was at the SRC inauguration where workers and students entered the Main Hall carrying placards falling for insourcing, proceedings came to halt temporarily, but a university official intervened and the event went on without addressing the matter.
The workers were supported by the SRC and student political organizations. Student leader Siyasanga Ndwayi said the picketing came as a result of the firm worker-student alliance together with labor union Salipswu after a series of discussions between these parties.
The workers memorandum was received by Manie Regal who is the executive director of Finance and Services at the university.
UWC interim spokesperson of Professor Cherrel Africa said that after much deliberation over a period of time the university Council decided against insourcing as they deemed it unaffordable and if implemented would leave the institution teetering on the brink of financial collapse.
Africa said the Council stated that they could not fund insourcing by embarking on a retrenchment program of existing staff.
“We also cannot fund insourcing from a student fee increase which would be an increase of approximately 40%. The 2018 budget was a deficit budget. The 2019 budget projects a marginal surplus of R3m which is only made possible by removing R25m from the salary budget,” said Africa
“Due to these financial constraints UWC did not promise that it would consider insourcing workers. To supplement their income each worker currently receives R25 920 per annum as a site allowance from UWC and R6 480 per annum as a site specific allowance from their employers. This means that workers receive a combined site allowance at UWC to the value of R32 400 per annum. Workers also receive the benefit of a study rebate the same as staff employed at UWC,” continued Africa.
Salipswu leader at the university, who asked to remain anonymous, said workers have no security and the institution is only out to protect its image. “When we want insourcing for the lower working class they tell us that the institution is going to be bankrupt,” said the worker.