PICS: UCT protest over outsourced labour

Published Oct 7, 2015


Cape Town - Students and workers marched at UCT on Tuesday, calling for an end to “exploitation and poverty wages for workers” and demanding that the university stop outsourcing contractors and services on the campus.

The march coincided with marches on Tuesday at Wits and the University of Johannesburg, which were all aimed at bringing an end to outsourcing.

At UCT, the march started on Lower Campus, passed the Bremner building and ended at Jameson Memorial Hall, which was then occupied by the group of protesters.

“Today workers at UCT are still experiencing all forms of discrimination and inequalities. Black workers and mainly women are still marginalised and continue to earn poverty wages,” Monica Gqoji, representing the UCT joint shop stewards of the National Education and Health and Allied Workers Union, read from a statement.

“UCT is responsible, through outsourcing, for bringing private companies into this public sector institution. These private sector companies are making a profit of public sector funding and the exploitation workers’ labour.”

Gqoji said the majority of workers in the cafeteria and bookshop were employed by contractors instead of by the university. The same applied to maintenance workers, cleaners, catering and security guards. “These contracted service workers constitute the university’s invisible workforce. These workers take home poverty wages at the end of each of month. These workers don’t earn proper benefits such as medical aid.

“These workers or their dependants don’t enjoy proper study benefits,” she said.

In a statement read out during a press briefing, the Rhodes Must Fall movement said the mass outsourcing of university workers to private companies since 1999 “is a deliberate policy to exploit workers in order to cut costs of institutions at the expense of these workers”.

“October 6 marks a turning point in the politics of outsourcing on university campuses. It represents the coming together of campus specific struggles into a national campaign for insourcing on campuses,” the statement said.


UCT spokeswoman Patricia Lucas said the UCT Council had called for a review of outsourcing last year.

“The Report on Outsourcing at UCT, dated April 14, 2014, estimates that the total additional costs of insourcing all services at the university would be R58 million a year, with additional upfront asset purchase costs of R68m. The university will not be able to absorb this cost without raising student tuition fees significantly, and this would impair student access to UCT,” she said.

In addition, the report found that the efficiency of the services allowed the university to concentrate on its core focus of teaching and research.

“The report confirms the value of the Code of Conduct that UCT incorporates into its outsourcing agreements, and encourages a strengthening of this Code to ensure that outsourced workers at UCT ‘have voice in the form of structured representation within the workplace’,” said Lucas.

Meanwhile, ANA reports that President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday that while the government supported students’ right to protest, the same right should be exercised with utmost responsibility.

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Cape Argus

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