Cape Town - University of Western Cape’s cleaning staff occupied the university’s administration building on Monday morning to protest against outsourcing and low wages.
Later more than 100 cleaning staff gathered outside the student centre and administration building.
They emptied refuse bins, banged on them and sang, apparently trying to get the attention of the university’s management.
The disgruntled cleaning staff say they are fed up with being outsourced. They also cited their displeasure about “remedial wages”, which they say are just not enough.
The irate group’s spokesman Noel Fester said that cleaners only made R2 700 a month which hardly covered basic necessities. He said his dreams of further education had been dashed. “I have a National Senior Certificate, but I can’t study. I am paid a minimal wage.
“We are not offered the same perks that staff employed directly by the university are offered. They get a discount when they are employed by the university. The way things are now not even my children will be afforded a tertiary education.”
The Cape Argus team were warned by UWC security not to take pictures.
Security guards said that media were not allowed on the premises without “official permission from the media office”.
Protester Nompha Nkalane said outsourced staff members wanted the university to employ them.
“We want a better wage and we want the university to employ us so that our families can also benefit and study further. People are angry about the R2 700 they are paid. It is a small amount and we cannot get by with that. Travelling fees and food already take up most of the money we receive. I have children, it is a matter of providing for them and seeing that they are in school with a full tummy,” she said.
Protest organisers said that the university’s executive promised to “look into the issues” but had not returned with adequate results as yet. Names of some casual workers who were apparently not paid for their service from November last year were being recorded by the organisers.
A casual worker who declined to be named said: “We were not paid and we are unhappy, how are we supposed to live?”
UWC spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo said: “The university vice chancellor addressed the delegation of outsourced workers at the university this morning with regards to the demand of R10 000 a month and being made permanent.
“The university council will deliberate on this matter at its next council meeting. In the interim the university has provided an amount of R2 000 a month to outsourced staff members at the same rebate benefits as percent staff. That means the staff, their children and spouses are able to study at the university.”