On 9 February, staff from UP’s food and security services protested against unfair working conditions and called for adequate remunerations as per South Africa’s labour laws. The group of staff were affiliated with the Academic and Professional Staff Association of South Africa (APSA).
Eugene Maluleke, branch chairperson of APSA and a member of the University Senate alleged that there had been forced working hours for staff in the security and food services sector which did not correlate to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act of South Africa. Director of Food Services, Peter Martin declined to comment to PDBY stating that “the University is in engagement with the relevant Union”. PDBY did not receive comment from Director of Security services, Johan Boonzaaier at the time of publication.
Rikus Delport, Director of Institutional Advancement at UP ascertained that “The University denies the allegations and can confirm that all working conditions and hours are in line with the relevant legislation. In fact, the benefits and working conditions are more and better than what is required by law and the respective sectors”.
Delport confirmed that a team under the direction of the University’s Chief Operating Officer, Mr Sandile Mthiyane has been in constant contact with the striking workers urging them to return to the discussions and to find solutions to the issues that they have raised without putting the University’s long-term financial sustainability at risk. The Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe met with the striking workers on the same day to receive a memo of their demands.
The university affirmed its confidence “that the impasse can be resolved through constructive engagement” and urged the APSA’s leadership to engage in constructive engagements “in a manner that does not endanger the long-term sustainability of the University”.