Robben Island workers to strike

2011-10-26 11:16

Robben Island workers want to close the island to visitors between Christmas Day and “tweede nuwejaar” (January 2) to spend time with their families.

The Cape Times reported today that the workers are also demanding a R3 500 a month increase and plan to strike until their demands are met, the newspaper reported.

Robben Island Museum chief executive Sibongiseni Mkhize expected about 150 out of 220 workers to strike from today. The workers, who are members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), would remain at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town until their demands were met.

They run the island’s ferries, work in its shops and sell tickets to tourists.Nogcinisa said Robben Island management had shown an “unbelievable level of impertinence” by telling members they would not receive a wage increase this year.

“This level of arrogance astonished our members and they duly warned the management that their unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated,” he said.

He said management had offered a once-off cash payment of R10 000, which was rejected, and then a 6% increase.

“This was rejected by workers who saw this as a cunning ploy by the employer to mislead the workers and the public and to disguise their unwillingness to place a genuine offer on the table. This percentage works out to a figure less than the inflation rate in real terms.”

Nogcinisa said Nehawu declared a dispute after the mediation process failed and workers voted overwhelmingly to go on strike.
The workers were also demanding the implementation of all the provisions of the 2010/11 settlement agreement signed by Nehawu and Robben Island Museum, including an implementation date of May 1 and equalisation of housing allowance to all employers and medical aid.

Nogcinisa said members regretted that people would be inconvenienced by their decision to strike, but workers should not be exploited. Mkhize said talks would continue until an agreement was reached.

He said the museum had offered 6% because it could not afford the increase demanded by workers. Mkhize said the museum and island would continue to run as usual but with fewer staff.

“Our plan is that, with the workers who aren’t striking, we’ll be able to run the ferries,” he said.

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