'UKZN not to blame for workers' woes'

2011-10-17 00:00

THE University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) says it cannot be held responsible for the working conditions of workers at the institution employed through labour brokers.

Workers at risk of losing their jobs when new service contracts are awar­ded at the end of November have accused UKZN of hypocrisy by employing them through a labour broker.

Workers in security, cleaning and garden services claim they are being exploited and that the university has declined to intervene on their behalf.

At a recent meeting they called for their wages to be set at a minimum of R3 000, saying they earn only about R1 500 per month.

UKZN spokesperson Nomonde Mbadi said that while the university sympathises with the workers, it is not responsible for their working conditions.

In line with most large organisations, UKZN appoints independent service providers to undertake and run essential services at the university, he said.

“The university does not have the expertise in the execution nor the management of essential services like maintenance and security. Following careful consideration the university took the decision a few years ago to outsource essential services, thereby creating employment and supporting entrepreneurship.

“In this regard compliance with the university’s tender and procurement processes are strictly adhered to.”

She said that to achieve consistency in the management and the quality of services, UKZN will appoint service providers with a track record of relieable service delivery.

She said the responsibility for employees’ working conditions lies with the employer and the employee who accepts the agreement. “The University of KwaZulu-Natal is not the employer and this must be clearly understood.

“We sympathise with aggrieved employees employed by independent service providers and suggest that they formally present their concerns to the companies concerned.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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