The University of the Witwatersrand agreed on Monday to facilitate talks in a labour dispute between residence kitchen workers and the service provider employing them.
Students went on a hunger strike on May 20 and occupied the main administration building after Royal Mnandi's dismissal of 17 workers in the residence kitchens in March for refusing to be relocated to other work stations, said the university's student representative council (SRC).
The university would not interfere in the legal processes of the company, vice-chancellor and principal Professor Loyiso Nongxa said on Monday.
“The university has, however, agreed to facilitate a meeting that will create a space wherein whichstudent and staff representatives from the university can engage with representatives from Royal Mnandi,” he said.
“This meeting is due to take place this week, which we hope will result in an amicable solution for all parties.”
The SRC had taken exception to the dismissals, claiming there was a lack of consultation, said SRC spokesman Yusuf Peer. It asked the university to intervene.
The hunger strike and occupation followed rallies, a boycott of Royal Mnandi meals and a march on May 16 when a memorandum was handed to university officials, he said.
The National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) commended the students for their protest and the change in the university's position.
“They (the workers) have not yet been reinstated. The process is being reviewed,” said Nehawu spokesman Sizwe Pamla.
“The students have forced the stubborn and indifferent management of the institution to intervene in the ensuing impasse.”
Royal Mnandi was not available for comment. - Sapa