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Pretoria - Operations at the National Zoo in Pretoria are normal and both the welfare of the animals and the safety of visitors are taken care of despite a strike by zoo workers, the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG) said on Sunday.

NZG employees affiliated to the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) went on strike at noon on July 8. The dispute related to an agreement signed in 2009 between the NZG and its various trade unions on implementation of a seven-day workweek. The NTUC was now demanding that the agreement be cancelled and that employees be paid overtime for work performed during weekends.

“The zoo is not in a position to meet the demands of the union," National Zoo managing director Clifford Nxomani said.

"The zoo is a seven-day operation. It is both impractical and financially unfeasible to meet the demands of the union. We have on several occasions engaged with the employees in an attempt to resolve the matter. In terms of our agreement Saturdays are considered normal working days and employees receive overtime payment for Sundays,” he said. 

Incidents were reported on Sunday morning of striking employees attempting to barricade the entrance to the zoo as well as littering. These were immediately addressed. The striking employees dispersed at noon after being informed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) that the regulations of the Gatherings Act had not been followed.

"The National Zoo would like to reassure the members of the public of both the welfare of the animals and the safety of the visitors while the union continues with its actions. All the animals are cared for and there is limited impact on other visitor services operations," Nxomani said.