External reviewer to tackle outsourcing decision

27 July 2009

UCT hopes to secure the appointment of a candidate shortly to review its decision, almost a decade ago, to outsource non-core business services such as cleaning and catering to contract companies.

"The decision was taken at a time when outsourcing appeared to be an answer to the management of large institutions with many different but necessary services required to make the total enterprise work," said deputy vice-chancellor Professor Thandabantu Nhlapo.

Nhlapo is the convenor of a sub-committee, mandated by Council, which will appoint an external candidate to review the matter. This committee, which includes Council members, has met several times already to develop the terms of reference for such a reviewer. When the terms of reference are finalised, a process will be developed for inviting as much input as possible in the identification of a reviewer to carry out the function.

UCT's decision to outsource non-core business services, which resulted in an exodus of UCT employees involved in services like cleaning and catering to contract companies, has elicited concern in many sectors of the community in recent years. These concerns were related to wages, conditions of employment, and so on.

"The triangular relationship between UCT, outsourced service providers and employees needs careful balance," he said.

"UCT has been ahead of the pack in devising a code of conduct to which all our outsourced companies are bound. It ensures that the treatment of these employees by their employers is up to the standards of human rights with which UCT is comfortable."

He said it was in this context that UCT had engaged with various bodies on campus, including the unions and the newly formed Students Workers Alliance, who seek to protect workers' rights.

Nhlapo said the sub-committee would be working "flat out" to complete the review.

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