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University of Pretoria's insourced security, food services staff protest against working conditions

Insourced security personnel and food services staff protest at the entrance to the University of Pretoria. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Insourced security personnel and food services staff protest at the entrance to the University of Pretoria. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Published Feb 9, 2022

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Pretoria - The University of Pretoria's (UP) insourced security personnel and food services staff are pleading with the institution for adequate working conditions and fair, equal remuneration of workers according to the country's labour laws.

A group of over 500 workers associated with the Academic and Professional Staff Association of South Africa (APSA) gathered outside the university's entrance earlier today demanding that the university's Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe come down and address workers' challenges himself instead of sending his subordinates to do the job.

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Eugene Maluleke, the branch chairperson of APSA and member of the university senate, said the workers affiliated with the trade union were tired of being subjected to abnormal working conditions.

Maluleke said those that were recently insourced had allegedly been forced to work 60 to 72 hours a week something which was not in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of South Africa.

Section 9 of the Basic Employment Act stipulates that an employee may not be required or allowed to work more than 45 hours per week or nine hours in a day in a working week of five days or less, excluding a lunch break.

Not only that but Maluleke said the leave policy of the institution also seemed to be applicable only to the newly insourced workers especially those in the security and food services.

"Where the policy says an employee has got 120 days sick leave per three-year cycle, you'll find that these security officers are only being afforded 30 days per three-year cycle instead."

"This might be the only institution which does not bother to give employees a 13th cheque or bonuses. Workers have had enough of being subjected to poor working conditions whilst security members who were here before the insourcing are treated better."

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According to the chairperson, those who were here before the insourced members were allegedly working as per the labour relations act and not more than 48 hours per week.

To make matters worse he alleged the new members were forced to work overtime but the rates they were given were not similar to that of the traditional staff.

He said that although numerous meetings had been held with university management, they were now tired of the boardroom talks as they were not yielding any success.

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Rikus Delport, the university spokesperson, confirmed that the university was aware of one of its recognised trade unions, who had been picketing peacefully in the driveway area between the public road and the gates of the University Road entrance at their Hatfield campus since the morning.

Delport said the planned industrial action stemmed from a failure to reach an agreement with the union on various issues relating to conditions of employment of insourced staff in security and food services.

The spokesperson denied the allegations made by the union and instead reiterated that the university was committed to finding a solution to the issues raised.

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Insourced security personnel and food services staff protest at the entrance to the University of Pretoria. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

If anything he said the university had requested the union to return to discussions with the university.

"We have been engaging the union leadership to identify the issues requiring attention and to explore possible solutions to avert the strike. We take APSA’s concerns seriously and will work with its members to find solutions to the issues that they have raised.

"While we respect the rights of workers to embark on a strike, it is important that they do so in an environment of mutual respect and without disrupting campus activities," Delport said.

Meanwhile, he urged protesting workers to adhere to the picketing rules as outlined and approved by the CCMA, particularly one of the rules agreed to which was the no-work-no-pay principle for those who elected to participate in the protest action still stood.

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