UKZN labour conditions are ‘appalling’

2009-11-25 00:00

CLEANERS and security guards at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) are working under appalling labour conditions.

This was revealed at a seminar organised by the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), together with the UKZN Workers' Forum at the university’s Pietermaritzburg campus yesterday.

Cleaners, security guards, students and National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) representatives attended the seminar.

UKZN Worker’s Forum representative Zama Hlatshwayo said they have engaged the university management in an attempt to find middle ground on the issue of labour brokers at the institution.

“In August, we met with university top officials and employees to say we want employees to be brought back under the institution’s pay-roll. That meeting has not yielded any positive results,” Hlatshwayo said.

A study report conducted by Caroline Skinner in August reveals that cleaners are paid between R8,50 and R8,76 per hour. This amounts to between R1 067 and R1 175 per month.

Security guards get an average R10,30 per hour, which comes to between R1 944 and R2 100 after deductions. The study incorporated areas around all the UKZN campuses.

The report estimates that a household in these areas survives on a minimum amount of R3 157,64 per month.

CCS’s Trevor Ngwane said many of the workers have served and were on the university pay-roll since the late 1980s. In a cost-cutting measure in 1998, the university decided to give workers early retirement, enlisting the services of contractors instead.

Abolishment of outsourcing services enjoys the support of the students.

In yesterday’s seminar student representative Mlungisi Manana urged wor­kers to unite against exploitation by contractors.

“This is the time to fight labour brokers to the core. We as students cannot stand aside and watch while our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters are exploited by those whose main goal is to line their own pockets at the expense of the poor,” Manana said.

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