We've been violated for many years - UFS contract workers

Bloemfontein – Contract workers at the University of Free State on Thursday recounted the daily reality of having to survive an uncertain future.  

The overarching sentiment was that workers did not have benefits and lived in debt. Others said they were also uncertain about contract renewals.

“We work hard and it is sad that we are taken advantage of by the university; last year we were promised that we would be insourced in January and that did not happen," 52-year-old Joseph Phiri told News24.  

The father of four said when he started working at the university in 2014, he received R2 400 and in December 2015 the institution increased his salary to R5 000.  

However, before the increase, Phiri said he used to walk from Dinaweng, which was more than 10km away from work.  

Deserve pension money

“I stay outside Bloemfontein and I used to wake up at 03:45 and walk to work and would arrive at 06:45 and I wouldn’t complain – but we deserve to be insourced and also when I retire, I believe I deserve pension money too,” he said.    

Hilda Mosetsi, 50, said being insourced would mean she would take better care of her two children and also her late brother’s children.  

“I live in debt and sometimes I loan money just so I can travel to work. It has been hard, and you don’t know what to do because you just want to survive,” she said.

Vuyani Maseti, 60, told News24 that he doesn’t enjoy his money as it is used to pay loans.  

“We have been violated for many years, and I believe that we deserve to have benefits which include provident funds. I want to be able to take care of my children," he said.  

All four of his children hadn't gone to varsity and they "haven’t made anything from their lives".  

Workers back Monday

Tsora Motshudi, 30, said he has been a contract worker since 2006.

Tsora Motshudi (Photo by Jeannette Chabalala, News24)

"Life has been tough but the salary made a difference for me. I started earning R600 a month until I received R4 000, he said. "I would spend all my money on transport and I still struggle to provide for my family, it is like going backwards."

On Thursday, contract workers at the university ended their week-long protest after the university met their demands.

University management briefed them in the morning and promised to employ them directly after their contracts ended.   

Trevor Shaku, of the students' and workers' forum, said workers would resume their duties on Monday.

Once the workers’ contracts expired, the university would employ them directly. By July 2017, every worker would be insourced, Shaku said.

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