THE negotiations over wage increases between the board of the Boikhuco Old-Age Centre in Bochabela, Bloemfontein, and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) representing the 59 workers, have deadlocked. Express has reliably learnt the workers have rejected the board’s offer of a R243 increase and a R5 increase for the night duty allowance. The workers are demanding a R700 increase for all employees and a R50 increase for the night duty allowance. Presently, the workers receive R25 as night duty allowance. Disgruntled workers would not budge in their demands after meeting representatives of the board. The workers are also demanding improvement in working conditions. The workers have begun protesting outside the premises of the centre during tea and lunch time intervals to show their displeasure with the board’s offer. The protest began on 27 June when the affected 59 workers Z cleaning supervisors, drivers and nurses Z left about 80 permanent residents unattended for the better part of the day. The protest was fuelled by a range of issues, which included alleged ill-treatment and spiteful remarks by the centre manager, Christian Mosala.The workers have expressed their dismay with the centre’s management for employing four retired nurses who are over 65 years old. The workers told Express the R700 increase would up their monthly wages to at least R3 000, which they said was still below the breadline, considering the ever-rising costs of living. To give in to the workers’ demand of R700 in salary increase, the board would need R41 300 for wage increases and R2 950 for night duty allowances (R44 250 in total). The workers justified the demand for wage increases and night duty allowances by saying that the board has increased the boarding and lodging of permanent resident who were paying R1 700, which is more than the R1 500 state pension they receive monthly. The families of the senior citizens residing at the centre permanently pay R200 extra to cover the costs, Express was told. The centre has also increased the monthly fee of residents who are part of the day-care programme (senior citizens who do not sleep at the centre and are transported daily to be looked after during the day).Express has reliably learnt that the centre receives subsidies from the provincial Department of Social Development and private donors, including the National Lottery.