Workers down tools at Unisa over outsourcing

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Unisa's campus in Sunnyside, Pretoria, has been closed due to a pay strike.

JOHANNESBURG – “Outsourced workers” from the University of South Africa (UNISA) in Pretoria downed tools on Tuesday over a pay hike dispute.

Workers said they wanted the university management to “abide by an agreement” to pay them a “reasonable” wage and to employ them under the institution rather than “outsourcing them”.

This work stoppage comes after two months of protests by workers from Pretoria’s higher education institutions.

UNISA Student Representative Council (SRC) Chairperson Ntando Sindane said more than 2,000 workers are on strike at the Sunnyside campus.

 

UNISA Economic Freedom Fighters’Student Command Chairperson Neo Hlabirwa said workers began protesting at 7 am on Tuesday morning outside OR Tambo building at the institution.

“UNISA management did not implement all the demands set out by workers. When we met with them last month, they did not object to the R8000 workers had asked for. Instead they decided not to pay the initial amount completely,” said Hlabirwa.

On Monday, Hlabirwa had sent Vice Chancellor Mandla Makhanya an email alerting him that workers would again protest if their demands were ignored.

UNISA spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said: “I am aware of what is happening, but I cannot say anything yet as I am going to a meeting … perhaps on the matter”.

Sindane said lectures and exams have been halted due to the protest and students have been escorted out of the buildings.

“We are committed to a peace and fair negotiations, but we cannot accept what workers are going through. Workers have not yet been absorbed into the system as negotiated,” said Sindane.

The SRC chairman said services providers were not complying with labour laws.

“Workers have been dismissed since insourcing negotiations … and some have not been paid their salaries,” said Sindane

In a statement, Hlabirwa said:”We have resorted to going back to the street because other institutions of higher learning are way ahead of UNISA with regard to implementation of insourcing. We also have reason to believe that there are members of UNISA Management who are improperly and unduly benefiting from exploitation of workers”.

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