UCT agrees to insourcing demands

Cape Town - Following weeks of protests, the University of Cape Town has committed itself to the principle of insourcing, its vice chancellor said on Wednesday.

"A process to determine the modalities, framework and timeframes of the implementation of this decision will need to be agreed upon by all parties involved," said Vice Chancellor Max Price in a statement.

"This decision assumes that we will have a commitment from staff and students that operations will be allowed to return to full capacity."

Price said he was aware that insourcing would incur significant costs, but the recent wave of student and worker protests at UCT and across the country calling for lower fees and the insourcing of workers had "emboldened us to commit to finding the money somehow".

"Across the institution there now appears to be widespread support for moving away from outsourcing," he said.

Price confirmed that the executive had recommended to council last Saturday that the university shift its previous approach to outsourcing.

"Since that council meeting, a team has worked intensively for the last three days to see what a commitment to insourcing would mean and how to enable it.

Cost implications

"Based on this, the executive last night recommended to council that we make a commitment to the principle of insourcing the current outsourced services on our campus. The majority of council members have indicated their support for the decision.

"Insourcing these services will have significant cost implications, especially coming on top of the reduction in revenues that the 0% fee increase will mean.

Price said that a concerted effort will have to be made to convince the state to make available additional funding. He said UCT’s management will participate fully in the ministerial commission that will investigate outsourcing on university campuses over the next six months.

The university has suspended the tender processes for new contracts where current contracts are due to end soon.

"The university has over the years grappled with the issue of insourcing/outsourcing. A decision to insource was always complicated by the fact that it would have severe financial implications," Price said.

"Recognising the potential of outsourcing to create exploitative conditions of service for workers, we believe UCT has done the most to protect outsourced workers, not only amongst the universities of the country but arguably amongst all companies that outsource. This includes setting a minimum wage and monitoring employment practices."

Discussions to resume operations on campus were continuing, he added.

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