2 August 2017

South Africa: CPUT Insources Its Workers

Following a week of student-worker protests that resulted in a two-day shutdown, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) agreed to insource its workers. The workers signed pre-contracts on 31 July which stated that they will be permanent employees of CPUT as of 1 January 2018. The pre-contract also stated that finalised contracts will be given to the workers on or before 31 August and their payslips would be available on 25 August.

Shirley van Niekerk, a cleaner at the Roeland Street campus, lives in Delft and supports her daughter and grandchildren. She told GroundUp that she had been working for the university without a contract for eight months. She explained that their salaries were paid directly into their accounts without payslips. "Tomorrow something happens with you and there's nothing for you and CPUT will tell you that you're not on the system", said van Niekerk. She is happy about the pre-contract but before she considers this a victory, she is waiting to see the finalised contract stipulating the conditions of employment.

Lauren Kansley, media liaison of CPUT, said: "Yesterday insourced workers signed pre-contracts which cemented CPUT's commitment to provide formal contracts by the end of August. Furthermore, Council also committed to monitoring the insourcing process more regularly".

The letter sent to the students and workers from CPUT management referred to the court cases against the charged students of #FeesMustFall. The letter stated: "The University Management remains committed to the wellbeing of all our students and care deeply for those facing charges at this time". The letter also assured the students that CPUT management would write "comprehensive letters of motivation" to the court to allow all #FeesMustFall charged students to complete their studies.

GroundUp asked CPUT management about the additional cost of insourcing, but the institution did not answer this question.

The student-worker protests last week included two key demands: insourcing security guards and cleaning staff and dropping the #FeesMustFall charges. The university decided to close for two days. Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Chris Nhlapo, said the decision to shut down was to ensure the safety of the staff and students. The CPUT council met with insourced workers and students on 26 July, where they reached an agreement to insource workers.

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