UCT’s rocky start to the day after mini-protest

A student and his “brother” protested against workers’ new conditions under insourcing

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Photo of protesters
Students protest against outsourcing in October 2015. Photo: Masixole Feni

One student and his “bodyguard” managed to blockade the University of Cape Town (UCT) this morning and stop the Jammie Shuttle service from running. The mini-protest called for the university to listen to complaints by students and insourced workers.

Workers who were insourced by the university following protests last year have raised issues with their new conditions of employment within the university. These include a mandatory medical aid payment, complaints about leave and they say no differences in pay for night staff or for those working on Sundays.

Sibusiso Mpendulo, the student who began the protest this morning by smashing cement building blocks in the middle of the road leading onto campus, said that the protest was their “last option” as the university hasn’t been listening.

“We sent emails to Price [the Vice Chancellor] as part of the process to appeal to him to listen to us, but he doesn’t listen to us,” he said.

Mpendulo, who was supported by a man whom he referred to as his “brother” and “bodyguard”, said that he sent appeals to the university in 2010 but that these haven’t been responded to.

Mpendulo wore a sign reading: ‘UCT of Racism’.

Management from UCT engaged with Mpendulo as well as representatives from the campus protection services, Jammie Shuttle and the cleaning staff who had all gathered around the blockade. They came to an agreement to meet next week.

Lindelani Tyhilana, a shop steward for South African Public Service Union (SAPSU), which represents some of the security staff, said that he was happy about the protest because now they would have the space to raise their issues.

Tyhilana said that those working night shift or on public holidays haven’t received additional pay since they have been insourced.

Another worker, who worked for G4S until he was insourced, said that they were also unhappy about the money from their provident fund being transferred into UCT’s pension fund.

“We are forced to take medical aid now,” said the worker. He said the deduction cost him about R4,000 if he included his wife and child in the medical aid, and it left him with very little money to take home.

He also said that the leave that they accumulated under G4S had not been transferred when they were insourced.

He said he was “not happy with insourcing”.

Patricia Lucas of UCT’s Communication and Marketing Department confirmed that “two students blocked the Woolsack Road entrance to Upper Campus early this morning. Drivers to Upper Campus were advised to use the South entrance instead.

“University leadership engaged with them and traffic resumed. UCT remains committed to understanding and listening to issues that are raised and resolving them through discussion … With regard to matters relating to staff members or recently insourced staff, UCT is engaging with the appropriate labour organisations and the staff members themselves.”

TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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