The Wits Workers Solidarity Committee held a rally at the Great Hall Piazza in support of Supercare workers currently on strike, on Tuesday.
Students and contracted workers at the university who are not on strike stood in solidarity with the workers involved in the cleaners strike. The people present sang protest songs holding placards written, “Wits is a scab free zone”.
Sociology honours student, Naadira Munshi, and also a member of the committee explained that the phrase written on the placards relates to the temporary cleaners hired at the university during the strike.
“We want Wits to be a scab-free zone because scab or temporary workers undermine the strike by cleaning and by their very presence here. It means the companies won’t feel the pressure of the strike. Workers have a legitimate reason to protest for a increase in wages a better living wage,” said Munshi.
A worker from ABC contractors, dressed in green overalls with the SONKE logo on them, said “We want to support the people who are involved in the strike. How will they be heard if temporary workers are cleaning the university? So since the workers on strike are not allowed on campus, we decided to show our support for them.”
“We don’t want to fight or use violence. We just want to help them get management’s attention,” he added.
The committee established a strike fund late last week. The fund is managed by Wits employee, Ingrid Chunilall and student, Vuyani Pambo.
In an effort to raise funds, employees at Wits University were emailed. The email stated, “The Wits Workers’ Solidarity Committee supports the strike of cleaning staff, and is appealing for contributions towards a strike fund that can assist striking workers and families for incomes lost during the strike action.
A strike fund committee consisting of democratically elected representatives of workers, staff and students has been established, which will collect all monies with transparent record-keeping, and distribute the funds to workers based on democratic and transparent principles decided on by workers themselves.”
The committee will have another rally today outside the Great hall piazza and thereafter a mass meeting on the east campus library lawns to report back on the strike and developments in negotiations.