Wits nightshift isn’t mahala

By Pheladi Sethusa and Ray Mahlaka

FILE PHOTO: A Wits security guard is pictured on duty earlier this year. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana
FILE PHOTO: A Wits security guard is pictured on duty earlier this year. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

WITS Campus Control security guards allege they are owed about R40 000 each in their night shift allowance payment.Three Campus Control security complained to Wits Vuvuzela that they had not received increases for night shift allowances since 2002, despite working seven days a week for 12 hours a day. This amounts to about R40 000 per guard.

The security guards want a night shift increase of R400-500 per month, to their current monthly salary which they say ranges between R4000- R5 000. The security guards said they only received R190 per month for night shift allowance.

“There is no indication that the night shift allowance increase will materialise. Every time we ask the head of security, they say they cannot comment. The money for the night shift allowance is too low,” a security guard said.

Payment received

At a meeting last week Prof Tawana Kupe, deputy vice chancellor of Finance and Operations, showed Wits Vuvuzela evidence of the payment of nightshift allowances via workers’ payslips. He said all Campus Control workers were accounted for.

However, unionist Billy Cebekhulu, the treasurer of Nehawu said a report was commissioned by Wits management to look into night shift increases. While the report is done the issue is that the findings are not yet public .

Cebekhulu said: “We were told the person has been hired [to look into night shift remuneration] and there will be a report. We have not seen it and we are still awaiting a report. The night shift issue is a concern to us.”

We want our money

A third security guard said they are owed at least R40 000 in night shift allowance increases per person from 2002. He said they want the money before December.

Nehawu said that in 2009 it took the university to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to resolve night shift disputes at the institution.

 

However, Kupe said during his eight month tenure as DVC, he was not aware of a CCMA case as there might have been a settlement.

Kupe said perhaps the nightshift allowances are not increased like salaries, “not everything is subject to an increase,” he added.

“I’m not saying there isn’t a problem, I want to know what their problem is,” said Kupe.

Cebekhulu said the problem with the nightshift allowances was that before 2009, the allowances were being taken off their basic salaries at cost to company. Cost to company is the amount a company pays employees before any deductions, meaning that any benefits would be charged off of one’s salary.

“We have been paid with our own money,” said a distraught Cebekhulu.

In 2009 it was agreed that a R150 increase on the nightshift allowances would be granted, which meant that the R150 would be a separate entity, that wasn’t at cost to company.

The union and workers want to be remunerated for the years in which the nightshift allowance was taken off their salaries.

Hide and seek

Chairperson of Nehawu Wits Richard Sadiki said there was “a hide and seek on management’s side” in not addressing night shift concerns.

One disgruntled guard said: “We work hard and we can’t afford to take care our family (sic). We are being ripped off.  We should be paid more and we guard the university 24 hours, but there is no thanks from the university. We are doing our level best to make students safe, but the employer is not grateful.”

Security guards also complain of a lack of security guards on West campus.

According to a security guard, there are only three guards at West campus, from the nine hired in 1993.

Kupe said that having more staff on campus would not help to prevent crime on campus, “we don’t need more guards”. He felt we needed students to behave morally and justly towards each other, he felt.

Rob Kemp, Director of Campus Control denied allegations that nightshift staff were not paid their allowance. “The allowance has not fallen away and still active. The allowance is a requirement in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act,” he said.

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