South Africa: Johannesburg university struggle

Solidarity needed

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) in South Africais appealing for letters of protest to be sent to the management of the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The management have used police and security to attack their own workers – cleaners, gardeners, maintenance, kitchen and other domestic staff.

One of the features of the recent student protests – the October student uprising, that forced the ANC government to agree to a 0% fee increase in 2016 – was the outstretched hand of students to university workers. On many campuses workers joined the students in the protests. In reality a rebellion of both students and workers has played out over recent months.

A key demand of the movement was to end the outsourcing (privatisation) of university workers, linked to the question of improved pay, terms and conditions. Workers at UJ earn as little as R2,900 ($210) per month. When outsourcing was introduced workers were deprived of many rights including the right for their children to study for free at the universities the workers clean and maintain.

The University of Cape Town and the University of the Witwatersrand have now been forced to agree to endoutsourcing. But at UJ management is determined to discipline the workers for their audacity.

• On Wednesday 4 November public order police were deployed to attack protesting workers – one worker’s leg was broken; on Thursday 5 November police were used against workers again

• Management obtained an interdict banning protests within 700 metres of the university and giving the university the right to claim the costs of the judgement from the workers; and emulated the authoritarianism of the apartheid regime by banning demonstrations on campus forcing workers to protest outside locked gates in front of armed police

• Management refuses to deal with the workers’ committee elected by the workers to represent themselves and will only deal with the discredited trade union that did nothing about outsourcing for years

Please send protest letters to the vice-chancellor Ihron Lester Rensburg, demanding:

• An end to repression – for the right to protest

• Lift the interdict

• End outsourcing

• Deal directly with the workers’ committee

They can be sent via his Executive Assistant

Please send a copy to:

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November 2015