Monday, May 7, 2007

Sthembiso Bhengu

Sthembiso Bhengu
Sthembiso Bhengu is a lecturer in the Unit for Industrial, Organizational and Labour Studies at UKZN. He is currently undertaking his PhD research on workers in Dunlop with a particular focus on migrant workers and their extended family networks. Durban, he thinks, represents opulence with dire poverty and desperation.

In their chapter, Restructuring at the UKZN and Job Losses: the Case of Cleaners and Grounds Staff, Sthembiso and Mokong Simon Mapadimeng outline restructuring processes in South African higher education and UKZN, focusing on their devastating impact on cleaners and ground staff. They argue that the ideals of the merger (between the old University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal) to create a non-racialised university and to broaden access to people from all ‘races’, were seriously compromised as it became a tool for neo-liberal ideology. Such restructuring, they argue, has generated huge inequities in pay and conditions between a top-heavy administration and other workers. The authors draw on interviews with support staff who have been retrenched as a result of the merger and with cleaners still in the university’s employment. The entrenched workers claim that they were pressured to take severance packages, of which they received little information and turned out to be much less than expected. The employed cleaners complain about low wages and lack of promotion opportunities. Both groups complain bitterly about the collapse of their pension fund in which, with the authority of the university, their savings had been invested.

Mapadimeng, Mokong Simon, and Bhengu, Sthembiso. 'Restructuring at the UKZN and Job Losses: the Case of Cleaners and Grounds Staff', in Rob Pattman and Sultan Khan (Eds.), Undressing Durban (Durban: Madiba Press, 2007), pp. 413-423.