Workers protest outside the OR Tambo Building at Unisa demanding permanent jobs. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Workers protest outside the OR Tambo Building at Unisa demanding permanent jobs. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Catering workers contracted to Unisa demand permanent jobs

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published Oct 6, 2021

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Pretoria - Frustrated workers previously employed by a catering company contracted to Unisa staged an overnight sit-in at the Sunnyside campus, demanding permanent jobs from the new service provider.

They claimed the new service provider, Unisa Enterprise, which replaced their previous employer, Empilweni, promised them full-time jobs when it took over, but almost two years later, the new service provider had not honoured its promise.

Their situation worsened when the government imposed the hard lockdown during the Covid-19 outbreak last year in March. Since then they had been struggling to make ends meet.

On Monday, they descended on the institution and staged an overnight sit-in outside the OR Tambo Building at the Sunnyside campus.

The disgruntled workers were supported by the SA Workers Union, which vowed to take up their case with the institution’s management.

Speaking to the Pretoria News, the union’s secretary-general Dave Lebusa said all workers were promised they would be hired permanently; however, only 28 out of 108 were taken on board.

Lebusa said the workers demanded that Unisa at least open a cafeteria for them to work at while the institution was finalising the process of hiring them permanently.

He said workers and staff had taken “a conscious progressive decision” to embark on an all-night sit-in and picket at the campus until their demands were met. “Due to barbaric human rights violations and unfair labour practices here we are not leaving. If we die here, so be it! We refuse to leave until our issues are ventilated and solved by the vice-chancellor and the powers that be,” he said.

The union decided to intervene in the impasse between workers and management after many empty promises to open the cafeteria were made.

Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said: “Please note that this matter does not belong to Unisa as the workers concerned are the responsibility of a different legal entity, who are attending to it.”

Unisa Enterprise spokesperson Mxolisi Mavumengwana conceded that the company undertook to employ workers, but said the hiring process was hampered by lockdown levels. He said workers would be addressed today, to assure them that the process of hiring them was unfolding.

Pretoria News

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