By Nomcebo Masilela
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 6 of VARSITY.
A brand-new set of Food & Connect stores opened for business at the start of the second semester in 2018; a first for UCT Foods Services (Pty) Ltd. As a result, some former Big Chef employees, who previously worked at Frigo, have finally received employment.
The operating company, which is confirmed to be owned by UCT, has successfully opened outlets in seven sites across campuses, under the Food & Connect brand. This long-term development has created job security for more than 50 employees thus far. The staff, however, are not insourced. “The staff are not employed by UCT, as UCT Foods Services is a separate legal entity, although they receive similar benefits that all UCT employees are able to access,” said Fawaz Mustapha, Director of Food & Connect.
During the recruitment of previous Big Chef workers, UCT and UCT Foods Services worked in close association with the University and Allied Worker’s Union (UAWU). They carried out a scrupulous selection process tailored to the union’s requests and requirements.
With these stores built on the values of transformation, well-being, innovation, sustainability and scalability, UCT strives to instill a sound working environment. “The overriding principle was to create a new model that addressed the issues that had been experienced by staff and students with some of the third-party food vendors including health and safety problems”, said Mustapha.
During the recruitment of previous Big Chef workers, UCT and UCT Food Services worked in close association with the University and Allied Worker’s Union (UAWU)
VARSITY spoke to Morinah Siyema, an enthusiastic former Big Chef employee who is currently employed at the Molly Blackburn Hall Food & Connect store. “It’s been an absolute pleasure working here, in comparison to where I was before. I can say so far so good because we feel a sense of certainty about the what lies ahead of us,” she said.
Siyema added that after interviews were concluded, preliminary training took place during the midyear vacation. “It was as though we were being hired for the first time”, she said. Some ex-Big Chef employees, who were previously at UCT, have been redeployed to Big Chef outlets on other campuses by their employer.