Varsity cleaners back at work after out-of-court settlement

CLEANERS employed by Khukhula Cleaning Services, whose contract was terminated by the University of KwaZulu-Natal management, have returned to work after an out-of-court settlement.

CLEANERS employed by Khukhula Cleaning Services, whose contract was terminated by the University of KwaZulu-Natal management, have returned to work after an out-of-court settlement.

Their return follows a settlement reached between the university and the black economic empowerment company.

As part of the settlement, the contract now allows Khukhula to clean two more university buildings that they did not clean before.

The settlement comes before a court battle between the university and Khukhula director Nombuso Ndumo.

Ndumo took the university to the Durban high court, complaining that the termination of her company's contract and the appointment of a new company - Super Care - was "unprocedural and illegal".

The matter was supposed to be heard on Friday but the university's legal team and Ndumo's lawyers reached an out-of-court settlement.

Delighted employee Tshepiso Qholoshe told Sowetan that the university's move to rehire them showed that it was wrong in the first place to terminate the original contract without consultation.

"We are happy that we will still be able to continue providing food to our families. I'm relieved that our team is back at work.

"I've been stressed by the fact that people had lost jobs while the university opted to give a six-month contract to Super Care without following the normal legal procedure," Ndumo said.

She said she and her co-workers were happy that their legal team had reached an agreement with the university's lawyers.

"It was unjust for the university to claim that our contract was terminated because of non-performance. We have been cleaning the institution for eight years and they never complained," she said.

Khukhula's initial contract expired in December 2008 but they signed a one-month extension which was renewable for two years while the university was working out its tender procedures.

The university was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press "because they were in a meeting".

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