UKZN accused of exploiting workers

2011-10-13 00:00

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal has been accused of hypocrisy because it employs contract workers through labour brokers.

At a meeting last Friday Skhumbuzo Zuma of the Ujamaa Centre within the School of Religion and Theology at the university, which is assisting the contract workers, said the university is complicit in the exploitation of hundreds of workers such as cleaners, security and gardeners because it engages them through labour brokers.

The workers are at risk of losing their jobs by the end of November because the university will be appointing service providers when it finalises the tender process.

They have already been issued notices of dismissal and were supposed to finish working at the end of August, but due to delays with the tender, they have been kept on month-to-month contracts.

Workers who have been at the university for more than 12 years could be laid off without severance pay because labour brokers reportedly failed to deduct provident fund money.

Sources at the institution said some workers at the Durban campuses have already lost their jobs after their labour broker lost out on the tender process.

Zuma said, “We asked the university to absorb the workers. They refused and we asked them to put conditions for labour brokers to adhere to when treating their employees. They said that was an issue between the employer and employees.”

He said most of the workers earn less than R3 000 per month.

UKZN spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said the university is not responsible as the workers are not its employees.

“Their working conditions are agreed to with the Bargaining Council for Contract Cleaners,” she said.

“All the contractors are supposed to abide by the conditions set by the respective bargaining councils for their sector.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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