Habib to meet with striking Wits workers

Workers at the institution have described their employment conditions as abuse.

FILE: Wits vice chancellor Adam Habib listens to a group of students on campus who were protesting over the outsourcing of employees on campus on 28 October 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Protesting Wits students and workers are expected to meet Vice Chancellor Adam Habib today to hear whether the Senate will temporarily shut the institution to address the issue of outsourcing.

Yesterday, Habib told protesters that the university can't go back on its decision to resume operations and had asked to return within a month to give feedback on outsourcing.

Workers who are awaiting the decision from management have described their employment conditions as abuse.

Wits worker Nandi Ndabeni says she's struggling to get by on her cleaners' salary.

"I don't have any money. I don't even have a cent in the bank after working at Wits for so long."

She says being an outsourced worker has left her feeling trapped.

"I am old now, where will I go? Which company is going to hire me at this age?"

Workers have pleaded with university management to hear their calls and find ways of insourcing them.

Wits University says it will do everything it can to ensure students can safely get to lectures at the Braamfontein campus, ahead of exams.

Yesterday, a small group of students and workers blocked entrances to the campus as they protested against outsourcing.

The university's Shirona Patel says extra security has been brought onto campus to ensure students are safe.

"We understand that it's trying for staff and students, but we will open again and we hope that it will be a lot smoother."

But second year law student Labeebah Mohamed says she was chased and threatened on campus.

It's understood that police will remain on standby for the rest of the week to monitor the situation, they say if anyone tries to disrupt lectures, they will be removed from the premises.

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