Dear Professor Loyiso Nongxa and Dr Swemmer We, the undersigned academic and administrative staff of the University of the Witwatersrand, are writing to express our disgust and opposition to the retrenchment of cleaning staff from the University in its aim to cut spending. We are well aware of the economic challenges faced by the University but we are also aware of the economic challenges faced by many sections of society in the current recession. We are therefore opposed to the retrenchment of a large number of the most vulnerable and poorly paid staff currently employed within the University. In a climate of high unemployment, our cleaning staff are likely to be supporting numerous family members on their relatively small salaries. As low skilled workers, the retrenched are unlikely to find alternative employment, particularly as Supercare have made it clear that workers let go by Wits will not be redeployed elsewhere. If successful, the retrenchments will have huge and far reaching negative implications on families and communities. In addition, the manner in which workers contracts have been altered to allow for these retrenchments appears to be illegal. This needs to be fully and immediately investigated and all retrenchments put in abeyance while this investigation takes place. Further, as pointed out by many, the University is hardly a paragon of cleanliness. The reduction of cleaning staff is likely to make matters worse particularly in light of the expansion in the intake of students. For these reasons, we the undersigned are opposed to the Universitys decision to allow the retrenchment of the lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in the University.
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