UCT won’t bow to pressure from outsourced workers demanding jobs at the institution

The University of Cape Town (UCT) says it will not tolerate further disruptions by a group of people not employed by it but who have protested on its campus wanting the institution to give them jobs. 

According to UCT, the protesters comprise about 60 workers employed by Bytes Document Centre, Protea Boekwinkel, Food and Connect (Pty) Ltd, Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge, Protea Hotel Mowbray, Food Vendors and the Students’ Health and Welfare Centres Organisation (SHAWCO).

They provide a range of services to the university. 

They have been protesting at UCT for the past two weeks, demanding to be in-sourced, said university spokesperson Elijah Moholola.

The institution is, however, unable to address their demands as they are employed by independent business entities outside of the university, he said. 

“The UCT executive has repeatedly indicated to the group and previously in public statements that UCT is not able to address the demands of the group or to engage them on their labour issues as they are not employees of UCT,” said Moholola. 

On Tuesday and Wednesday the group entered several UCT buildings, including kitchens and classrooms, and instructed staff and students to leave the buildings, resulting in several classes being abandoned, he added. 

The disruption meant students could not get food on campus cafeterias and had to be given vouchers.

While the institution said it recognises the right of employees to embark on protected strike action, it would not allow people not employed by it to cause disruption to its daily operations. 

“These disruptions have a negative impact on our academic programme. In addition, the disruption of classes places additional stress on staff and students to catch up and in some cases may lead to a situation where a student or a class may not be able to finish their academic commitments successfully. This is not acceptable,” it said.

The institution also clarified that the protests were in no way related to  sexual and gender-based violence or labour issues by its own staff.

“It is plain and simply a group of employees of independent companies wishing to force UCT to employ them. The fact that they are disrupting our operations and trying to force people from their classes and work stations is completely unacceptable.”

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