Wits University responds to M&G report on outsourcing

Wits University says it has commissioned an independent inquiry to investigate allegations of discrimination, victimisation and harassment of the employees of service providers.

Wits University says it has commissioned an independent inquiry to investigate allegations of discrimination, victimisation and harassment of the employees of service providers.

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg would like to set the record straight with regards to the report on outsourcing published in the Mail & Guardian on May 28 2013. 

The facts are outlined below:

  • The University commissioned an independent inquiry led by Tokiso Dispute Settlement to investigate allegations of discrimination, victimisation and harassment of the employees of service providers, based on the University's campuses. 
  • The report, released on April 8 2013, to the media and the public found the University to be in general compliance with labour legislation but wanting in specific areas, like the working conditions of the employees of contractors. The recommendations in this regard relating to practices in particular, received immediate attention from the University and were addressed.
  • Following the release of the report, the University lifted its suspension on tenders that were pending and appointed two new cleaning service providers in May 2013. The University is currently negotiating the specific terms of the three-year contracts with these service providers, taking into consideration the recommendations reflected in the Tokiso report. 
  • The University is communicating with the employees of Wits' service providers and the Wits Workers Solidarity Committee throughout the process. 
  • A second report, pertaining to the merits of insourcing versus outsourcing and commissioned by Wits, is expected to be completed in June.

Contrary to the claims made in the article published by the M&G, the University does not directly employ any of the workers, and as such will not interview them.
However, the University will ensure that the new service providers will re-employee as many of the current employees of existing cleaning contractors. The University will endeavour to negotiate the most favourable terms and conditions for their employees. The University is  negotiating with the new service providers on this matter. 

The University will respond to the three demands put forward by the Wits Workers Solidarity this week. A copy of the response will be furnished to the Mail & Guardian.

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