Beach strike gets ugly

2012-11-14 00:00

STRIKING lifeguards on the South Coast have missed an ultimatum to return to work — and now face a court interdict after allegations of intimidation.

Employer Leon Garbade will turn to the courts tomorrow after 35 of his lifeguards embarked on an illegal strike last week.

He gave them until midday yesterday to return, an ultimatum they ignored.

Furthermore, police are investigating a case of intimidation after lifeguards brought in from Port St Johns as relief workers and some of their families, were allegedly threatened.

“Tuesday [yesterday] was a second chance for them to return to work by midday,” said Garbade — which they did not do. And the interdict is the next step I have to follow,” he said. Yesterday Garbade also opened a docket at the Margate police.

Spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Zandra Wiid confirmed a case of intimidation was opened after an 18-year-old man reported that he had been warned not to go to work. “He allegedly received the threat that he must not go to work as lifeguards are on strike or he will be in trouble, via a cellphone text message, whilst on Southport beach … investigations are continuing,” said Wiid.

The text message that prompted Garbade to open the case read: “If they see u working then we are all f…Bru. Leave now as soon as possible. I’m not asking I’m telling you!!!!Bru I’m your senior I’m telling u go home, don’t be on the manager’s side, it’s not how it works. F…manager, Bru we are in this together and if a manager phones u don’t answer if they tell u to go to work say no…..Bru go home last chance!!!”

When a lifeguard who is on strike and who has been communicating with The Witness was contacted yesterday, he said: “We don’t know about this intimidation or going back to work”.

The lifeguard said he and his colleagues planned to meet Hibiscus Coast municipal manager S’bu Mkhize today at 3 pm, but would be outside municipal offices from 8 am.

However, head of community services Maxwell Mbili denied any formal meeting was scheduled.

“HCM is not the employee of the lifeguards as this service has been contracted out so we have no need to meet the employees. If we don’t get services at the beaches then we will have to meet with the service provider [Tower 13]. I would suggest the striking lifeguards have the following options: go to the Department of Labour, the CCMA or their union if they have one. Nobody has contacted us officially for a meeting and we will not be meeting with them,” said Mbili.

For now, Garbade said Margate beach and Ramsgate main beach were open, while Hibberdene, Umzumbe and Southport each had only one lifeguard, but there was light at the end of the tunnel for when the schools break up.

“I have fully-trained matric pupils, who will be only too happy to look after the beaches in the holidays, so I am not stressing about the holiday season if my current staff are not back by then,” said Garbade.

• elaine@feveronline.co.za

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