HIGH AND DRY: Robben Island tour boats are out of service at the moment. The Sikhululekile is currently in dry dock for repairs. 
Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Workers at the Robben Island Museum say the ferry Sikhululekile, which has been under repair for months, is having an impact on their job security.

“This is not the first time issues like this have surfaced. We have spoken to the Robben Island Museum regarding this matter because workers are struggling and they are not treating them right,” said National Education, Helth and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) regional secretary Baxolise Mali.

Mali said the workers’ concerns ranged from their salaries to making contract workers permanent.

“You have to remember, Robben Island Museum spends an exorbitant amount of money on refurbishments on ferries, and we have been going through negotiations with them for a while and they have constantly told us they don’t have funds,” Mali said.

Earlier this month Robben Island Museum staff downed tools to hand in a list of grievances to the management of the World Heritage Site. Among some of their grievances were salaries, contract workers and the state of the harbour on the island.

“They have not addressed these concerns. We have requested a meeting with the chief executive for quite some time, and he has constantly dodged us and is trying to run away,” Mali said.

It is not the first time the Robben Island Museum has faced controversy over alleged maladministration and misuse of funding.

Earlier this month it emerged that the museum has a heavy reliance on the hiring of private boats and has spent more than R44million on rentals in the past financial year.

An amount of R3.3m was spent on repairs in the 2012/2013 financial year. The 300-seater Sikhululekile ferry has not made the trip across Table Bay since December 2012. To date, the museum has spent R6m on repairs.

“The Sikhululekile was removed from service for planned maintenance and statutory surveys that must be carried out at scheduled intervals.

For this year the budget was R7m. To date, expenditure has been R6m,” said chief executive Mava Dada.