"Next year, we'll be colleagues." This was an exchange between a Campus Protection Services officer and a UCT staff member in the evening of 28 October 2015. Workers and students gathered at Avenue House had heard that UCT would abolish outsourcing, and employ all currently outsourced workers who provide services on its campuses.
Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price declared in a statement earlier that day that UCT agreed to the principle of insourcing, advising that a process to determine the modalities, framework and timeframes of the implementation of that decision needed to be agreed upon by the parties involved.
Now, the first of those modalities has been decided, after intense consultation with the UCT community that began with the #FeesMustFall campaign that saw campus shut down since last Monday. A meeting between the NEHAWU Joint Shop Stewards Council (JSSC), which represents the workers, and UCT management produced a signed agreement in which UCT committed to insource the outsourced services at the time of contract expiry, subject to a short handover period, where the expiry dates are within the next few months.
This means that employees of six companies, who currently work at UCT, will become permanent UCT employees in the next few months. The companies are G4S (Campus Protection Services), Metro (cleaning of residences), Supercare (cleaning of university buildings), C3 (catering in student residences), Turfworks (grounds and gardening services), and Sibanye (student and staff transport services).
Some C3 workers recently signed five-year contracts with the company; in this case, the university is exploring escape clauses or buy-out clauses, and will exercise them provided no extra cost is incurred to the university.
No wages will be lowered, although the full details of the employment contracts will be negotiated in the next few months. Further, workers were assured that the insourcing move would not result in any worker losing their job, and that all would be absorbed into the university. There would also be no victimisation of employees and shop stewards as a result of the decision to in-source.
In the agreement, worker representatives and management commited to the "normal functioning" of the university as a whole on 2 November, with free and unimpeded access to the university enabled by the removal of barricades from campus entrances.
Furthermore, exams are mooted to begin on 9 November - although this must still be finalised with the relevant stakeholders.
The agreement was co-signed by the VC and the chairperson of the NEHAWU JSSC, Mzomhle Bixa.
Story by Yusuf Omar. Photo by Roger Sedres.
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