Kruger Park faces shutdown as union threatens a strike. Picture: Instagram/KrugerNationalPark
Cape Town – The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) and SA National Parks (SANParks) will come back to the negotiating table today after deadlocked discussions and the threat of a strike.

Hospersa is taking on SANParks for allegedly short-paying its employees for hours worked on Sundays and public holidays and after talks deadlocked regarding a wage increase.

Hospersa said recognised unions rejected SANParks’ final wage increase offer of 5.5%. They demanded an 11.5% increase.

The union, as the majority union at SANParks, with two other unions, represents about 5000 employees, including field rangers, field guides, petrol attendants, receptionists and hut attendants across the country.

SANParks spokesperson Rey Thakhuli said they had already tabled an 8% increase to the unions in hopes that they would agree and avoid any strike action.

“SANParks remains a responsible employee and we have tabled paying the wages in two forms - a backdated increase of 7% as of April until September, and 8% as of October until March next year. 

"We now head back to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to try to end the impasse,” said Thakuli.

Thakuli said SANParks hoped the unions would act responsibly and communicate their intentions should they decide to strike.

Contingency plans were however in place, and temporary and contract workers would be brought in, Thakuli said.

Hospersa said industrial action - after a similar strike in June - was the last course of action to end the impasse, vowing to exhaust all available legal avenues to resolve the dispute.

Hospersa spokesperson Kevin Halama said the proposed 8% increase had not yet been brought before the union.

“The Sundays and public holidays were a separate matter and following a compliance order against SANParks after reporting the matter to the Department of Labour, which SANParks still failed to comply with.

‘‘In fact, our lawyers flew from KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng to discuss the matter, only for the meeting to be cancelled five minutes beforehand,” said Halama.

The union had brought the matter to SANParks’ attention in 2017, he said. Halama said they would enter today’s talks with the intention to resolve the matter.

Cape Times