Robben Island Museum employees started picketing at the V&A Waterfront on Monday morning after salary talks hit a deadlock. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - Workers at the Robben Island Museum (RIM), have this morning begun their picket action to protest a deadlock in salary negotiations at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront.

Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), the country’s largest public-sector union, are demanding among other things, a nine per cent across the board salary increase, a two-year wage agreement and a R2000 once-off cash payment for every employee.

Meanwhile, the Ex-Political Prisoners Association (EPPA) Secretary-General Mpho Masemola said: “We are supporting the protest as it raises issues such as those we have been talking about all last year such as demanding the release of the Morar forensic investigation report into corruption and mismanagement at RIM.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a RIM staff member said: “Management obviously wants to thwart our plans. We have a certificate to picket, but they keep threatening us. We wanted to avoid the picket and so called a meeting to re-negotiate. We demanded 9%, plus a once-off payment of R2000 per person on a sliding scale payment for long service. At the renegotiation, they offered us R100 extra on the once-off payment.

“They sent a threatening letter late on Friday and plan to prevent staff from coming from the island on Monday morning by not providing a boat from the island,” said the staff member.

The staff members plan to picket at 7am, noon and 2pm, and have printed T-shirts displaying their demands, to be worn by the strikers and their supporters.

Robben Island Museum employees started striking at the V&A Waterfront on Monday morning after salary talks hit a deadlock. Picture: Supplied

In a letter reacting to the strike notice, RIM chief executive officer Mava Dada warned that the notice applied only to Nehawu members, and non-union members who did not report to work would be deemed to have participated in “unlawful acts of misconduct”.

Dada said: “The principle of no work, no pay will be applied, and the total number of days not worked will be deducted from the next salary.”

In what another staff member called “a divide-and-rule tactic”, Dada told employees who could not come to work because of the strike to “open a case at the SAPS and report the matter, with criminal case number, to their relevant immediate supervisors”.

To counter the pickets, Dada announced that the RIM will take the attendance register thrice a day during the industrial action: in the morning, at midday and in the afternoon.

The threatened strike is the latest in a string of incidents to affect the Unesco World Heritage Site. Last year, the RIM council and the Ex-Political Prisoners Association locked horns over a number of issues, including the constitution of the board and clashes with the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

In December, Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa appointed a former justice and correctional services minister, Michael Masutha, and a former North West education MEC, Louisa Mabe, to the RIM council to replace two members who resigned citing corruption.


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Cape Argus