Guards’ strike closes Tatham gallery

2008-06-11 00:00

The Tatham Art Gallery had to be closed early yesterday after the gallery security staff indicated they were not prepared to work because of a dispute with the municipality.

Director Brendan Bell said no visitors were allowed in after the lunch time concert held at the gallery yesterday.

“I’m sitting with millions worth of art, which is mostly on public display. Without security I would have to deal with potential theft, vandalism and sex in public toilets. I’m not prepared to take that responsibility,” he said.

He said the issue is related to the integration of the Tatham security into the main body of the municipality’s security staff.

The Tatham security staff have been fighting for integration for two years, and are now waiting for a report to be signed to finalise the process.

The Tatham’s security staff were upset after a grievance hearing with the process manager for community services and social equity, Mandla Zuma, was cancelled on Tuesday, with no explanation. Part of what the guards are waiting for is an agreement taking their length of service into account for the purposes of pay.

Bell said the meeting was originally postponed two weeks ago. According to procedure, when staff bring grievances that he as the director cannot resolve, he refers it to the community service and social equity management, who are expected to respond within five working days.

“It has been two months and nothing has been done. I understand where my staff are coming from and their concerns. I sympathise with them. They use their time off to come to these meetings that never materialise.

“This is no way to treat human beings. The staff are turning to me with complaints and we do all we can do here to get things through in time, but every time we get caught up in this bureaucratic nonsense and I’m sick and tired of it,” Bell fumed.

He said the sound governance and human resource management also failed to address the integration report in a council meeting on Tuesday, despite an assurance by Zuma.

“In my opinion the security of the building, the staff and the collections are at risk. It is also my opinion that the gallery security staff have been treated in a shockingly inhumane manner. This is management of the worst kind.

“Mr Zuma and the senior executive manager need to get their act together, the hold-up is mismanagement, plain and simple. I’m sick to death of things not being sorted out in time. It is a matter of signing the report and getting it through,” he added.

Numerous attempts to get comment from the municipality drew a blank.

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