Wits cleaners expressed their anger at a hundreds-strong gathering on campus this week, at what they see as devious outsourcing negotiations by the university.
Workers gathered outside the South West Engineering Building, chanting and singing against what they claim is the university’s sneaky process of outsourcing campus cleaning operations.
The university’s existing contracts with Supercare and Carovone cleaning services will come to an end in June. According to a conflict management report by Tokiso, a company contracted by the university after the cleaners claimed unfair treatment, the university had promised Supercare and Carovone cleaners they would all retain their jobs.
But the Wits Workers’ Solidarity Committee (WSC) says workers have been told they will be interviewed for the jobs – jobs they already have.
The university contracted a new company, Impact Cleaning Services, to service main campus. And, according to cleaners approached by Wits Vuvuzela, the university’s recent tactics have not done much to improve worker confidence in Wits management.
Deputy Director of Operations at Wits Services, Nicki McGee, said: “WSC have handed a petition to university management yesterday. Management are in the process of responding and have until Thursday t0 do so.” The university’s response had not yet been released by the time Wits Vuvuzela went to press.
A Carovone cleaner at Sunnyside residence, who asked not to be named, said their bosses only called them on Tuesday telling them to take their IDs to work with them on Wednesday as they would be interviewed for the new contractor.
At the meeting, Supercare cleaner, Deliwe Mzobe, said: “Hundreds of workers on our campus, some of whom have worked here for two decades, do not know whether they will be employed at the university, in fact whether they will be employed at all, in exactly 33 days time.”
Mzobe presented their petition of demands to Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Operations) Professor Tawana Kupe, after the incoming Vice Chancellor Professor Adam Habib left without speaking.
The crowd raised their fists and yelled “Buwa”, as PhD student and member of the WSC, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, addressed them. He expressed disappointment at Habib’s failure to speak. “This is not the newsroom or the SABC where he talks a lot making political analyses. He must come here on the floor and explain why this university is so bad.”