- Published on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 16:51
- Written by Nic Botha
The Students Workers Forum (SWF) gave their support for UCT's outsourced staff demanding an improvement to working conditions
On April 13th, the Students of the Workers Forum (SWF) presented a letter to UCT management, demanding an improvement to the working conditions of outsourced staff on campus.
Their list of demands called for private service providers to cease all threats and intimidations against workers who strike, to take strong action against companies found to be doing so, and for non-striking workers not be forced to perform the duties of striking workers.
The SWF cited the recently released Code of Conduct by UCT that stipulated certain conditions of labour for contracted workers. This was held to acknowledge UCT as the de facto employer of outsourced labour, and thus responsible for their well-being.
UCT’s Code of Conduct for private service providers aimed to ensure minimum requirements were met that would fall in line with labour legislation, the university’s Mission Statement, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Specified in the Code were minimum wages, safe working environments and the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, free from discrimination. The Code also calls for an annual report to be prepared by the service provider.
The letter was circulated by the SWF to the SRC and various student bodies, calling for student support against the violation of workers’ rights on campus. They called attention to the strike by Turfwork employees, supported by Supercare workers. It was felt that unless additional pressure was brought to bear on the university, striking workers faced victimisation from their companies.
Protests such as these echo many years of dissatisfaction with UCT’s policy of outsourcing labour, a process begun under former Vice-Chancellor Mamphela Ramphele. Concurrent with such protests has been a student presence, from the past Students Workers Alliance, to the current SWF.
Recent strikes by Cosatu at UCT and across the country have also focused on the process of outsourcing labour, in which unions have called for an end to labour brokering.
The committee of the SWF was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.