#NMMUfeesmustfall: NMMU ends outsourcing, offers fees and debt relief for poor students
The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), following the #feesmustfall student protests witnessed on its Port Elizabeth campus and at other universities across South Africa in October, announced on Saturday that it will no longer outsource labour and also announced debt and fees relief for poor students.
"Council has taken note of, and salutes, the struggle that has been waged by students and workers for a more equal, socially-just society. NMMU wishes to state its full commitment to creating progressive opportunities for working class students to access the university and for workers to enjoy equitable and just conditions of service," said Judge Ronnie Pillay, Chairperson, NMMU Council, in a statement.
Saturday's Council meeting follows a protest by a group of students and outsourced workers, who occupied the institution's Embizweni Building on South Campus on Monday morning, demanding an end to outsourcing among other grievances.
NMMU Vice-Chancellor, Prof Derrick Swartz, and some members of the NMMU Council, engaged with the protesters on the same morning where it was decided that an urgent Council meeting would discuss their demands on Saturday.
"We this morning received representation from students and service workers at a time when Council met today to discuss two issues, namely student debt and insourcing of services.
"The decisions I am going to be sharing with you are the outcome of these deliberations," Judge Pillay said.
"NMMU Council has resolved to commit the University to ending outsourcing of service workers as this practice leads to exploitation of labour and unethical practices not in line with NMMU’s core values."
He said that as the process of preparing for in-sourcing of service labour is underway, and as a measure of goodwill, the Council has instructed management to put into place the following immediate relief measures:
Across the board minimum wage guaranteed to each service worker of R5000 per month cost to company.
The new minimum wage level will come into effect on 1 December 2015 until service workers in key sectors are in-sourced;
During the university shut-down period, such workers will continue to receive the same level of pay and benefits;
Study benefits currently available to NMMU permanent staff will be available to all service workers employed in outsourced companies;
Staff currently employed in outsourced services will have access to university clinic services for medical treatment.
"Council furthermore commits the University management to immediately work with representatives of organized labour, students and workers employed in outsourced companies at NMMU on a process towards in-sourcing contracts of service workers,"Judge Pillay said.
"These steps must include, among others, possible renegotiation of current contracts without putting job security at risk and limiting financial losses, and phasing in-sourcing of service contracts from the beginning of 2016."
Judge Pillay said that concerning student debt demands, the NMMU Council determined for 2015 the following measures for immediate implementation:
debt relief for all NSFAS students with zero-EFC (expected family contributions);
debt relief for all NSFAS-eligible students with outstanding balances;
debt relief for students falling in the ‘missing middle’ income brackets who are academically deserving;
removal of the requirement for upfront payment for students falling in the ‘missing middle’ income bracket;
to lift the threshold of qualification for financial assistance; and
student representatives offered to assist to inform other students about this who have already left campus.
"Council furthermore calls on Government to ensure an effective and adequate system for debt relief for students from financially-disadvantaged backgrounds and that this be put into place for 2016 and beyond to ensure access of the poor to University education," he said.
"Council has also instructed the University management to expand mobilization of funding from external sources to support poor students wishing to study at post-graduate levels in 2016 and beyond."
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