Exploring the ethics of outsourced labour in post-apartheid South Africa

Horwitz, Jocelyn (2019-04)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The ethics of outsourcing labour has been in the media spotlight recently, particularly concerning universities in South Africa. Ethical consistency is particularly important for educational institutions because schools and universities have the responsibility of modelling correct behaviour for their students. As both schools and universities are microcosms of broader South Africa, it is illuminating to review the events surrounding the University of Cape Town (UCT) and their students’ mobilisation in 2015 under the banner #OutsourcingMustFall, which was aimed at ending the exploitative practice of outsourcing labour. These events created the precedent for the current study, which examines the ethics of outsourced labour through descriptive testimonies of 42 outsourced workers at a school in Cape Town (henceforth referred to as The School), to determine if a conflict exists between the core values of The School and the practice of outsourced labour. The central question driving this research is: ‘Even though outsourced labour is an accepted practice worldwide, does it best serve the interests of all people in South Africa, specifically within the context of South Africa’s transformational goals and the values and ethics of The School?’ The hypothesis is that there is a dilemma between The School’s core values and the practice of outsourced labour. The study is socially and politically significant as it addresses an emergent social problem in South Africa, namely the impact of outsourcing and the plight of precarious workers. The central findings are that the outsourced workers are marginalised and that their very existence at The School presents an ethical dilemma that contradicts the values the school stands for. The findings suggest that the dynamics at The School, while caring and inclusive of its core stakeholders, exclude and marginalise the cleaners and security guards through the structures of having outsourced these workers to external labour providers.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/106172
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