Wits students protest
Close to 1000 Wits students have embarked on a food boycott in solidarity with 17 cooks who are dismissed for 'gross insubordination'.
CLOSE to 1000 students at the University of the Witwatersrand have embarked on a food boycott this week in solidarity with 17 cooks who were dismissed for “gross insubordination”.
The boycott started on Monday and involved about 875 students who claim catering company Royal Mnandi Solutions ill-treated its former employees.
“These workers represent my own mother and my own father. The way they were dismissed is unfair and there was no proper rationale,” said 22-year-old masters student Itumeleng Masatshe.
Many of the workers who were dismissed, now known as the “Wits 17”, live in Soweto and Alexandra and get by on R2500 a month. They were originally working in the Braamfontein cafeterias, until about two months ago when some were relocated to larger cafeterias in Parktown.
“Before the move, it talked about [pay increases] and absorbing the transportation costs,” said Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, spokesman for the Workers Solidarity Committee and PhD candidate in the politics department.
But after two months went by and the catering company continued to delay formal negotiations, the workers simply moved back to their original jobs.
“Then without any warning they were dismissed on the spot,” Ndlozi said.
But Pauline Mahlangu, human capital executive at Royal Mnandi , said: “We believe we have followed due process throughout the dismissal of these employees both procedurally and substantively.”
The dismissed workers are members of the Hospitality, Industry and Allied Workers’ Union and the Catering, Retail and Allied Workers’ Union.