On 18 January, UP obtained a second court interdict from the Pretoria High Court. The interdict prohibited protesters from engaging in protest action within 150 m of any entrance to any of its campuses. The continued protest action forced UP to postpone its first-year Orientation Week by one week, with orientation only starting on Monday 18 January.

On Wednesday 20 January, after more than a week of protest action, a preliminary agreement between UP and protesting workers was reached. Although UP could not confirm the details of the agreement, it is alleged to have included the following:

• UP is to insource all previously outsourced protesting workers, with full benefits included.

• UP agreed to an increase in wages with a temporary salary of R5 500, which will increase to R10 000 by 2018 as workers exit their labour contracts.

• Workers and their dependents will be able to study for free, on condition that they meet the academic requirements of their study course of choice.

• All interdicts against workers will be withdrawn, on condition that all further protest action is peaceful and will not infringe upon UP’s functioning.

• A committee will be put in place to oversee workers’ grievances pertaining to victimisation and will consist of two students, two NEHAWU members, one member of the UP senate, and one member of the UP council.

In a statement released by UP, Vice- Chancellor and Principal Prof. Cheryl de la Rey reiterated the university’s commitment to ensure no further disruptions to academic activities, but added that UP also recognised “the process of finalising and implementing detailed action plans and timelines for insourcing of the identified services”. Prof. de la Rey further stated that the implementation of the agreement would require hard work and commitment from all parties involved and that the agreement was in line with several similar agreements at institutions such as Wits, the University of Johannesburg and the University of Cape Town.

According to Sam Mphuti, the EFFSC’s acting chairperson at the time, the EFFSC initiated and led the protest action against outsourcing. Mphuti further added that, at present, a task team, which includes a member from the EFFSC, has been appointed to ensure the implementation of the agreement which had been reached. “Until there are no outsourced workers at the University of Pretoria … we cannot rest,” said Mphuti.

 

Photo:Huvasan Reddy