National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union members employed by the Robben Island Museum embarked on a strike following a deadlock in wage negotiations. Picture: Henk Kruger /  African News Agency (ANA)
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union members employed by the Robben Island Museum embarked on a strike following a deadlock in wage negotiations. Picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

Union denies ferry tampering claims after full-blown strike delays Robben Island trips

By Staff Writer Time of article published Jan 9, 2020

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Cape Town – National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) regional representative Isaac Makwetu has denied allegations of possible tampering with a Robben Island Museum-owned vessel this morning.

The fourth day of a wage-related dispute turned into full-blown strike action on Thursday, with no trips being possible to Robben Island at 8am and 9am. No further delays were expected for the remainder of the day. 

Robben Island spokesperson Morongoa Ramboa said in a statement on Thursday: “Robben Island Museum employee representative union, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), embarked on a legally protected demonstration as of 6 January 2020 which took on the form of a picket. 

“RIM has applied its strike response plan from the first day to ensure minimal impact on operations.

“In its fourth day, we can confirm that it has since converted to a full blown strike.

“Unfortunately, there appears to have been possible sabotage with the tampering of one of RIM’s owned vessel that transported staff members from the Island at 06:30 to Nelson Mandela Gateway. 

“This prevented RIM outsourced vessels from docking to board the 08:00 and 09:00 tour. RIM is not anticipating any further delays for the remainder of the day.

“Given the severity of the incident, the matter will be investigated. 

“In the event that possible sabotage is substantiated, RIM will institute necessary human resources (HR), legal and criminal charges.”

Makwetu said: “No one has sabotaged the boat. It’s simply because that boat, the Krotoa, is new and they didn’t know how to start and operate it with Nehawu members going on strike.

“We find it strange because senior management that are there at the ferry that went to Singapore, they are supposed to know the ins and outs of that boat. 

“Nehawu members will be striking the whole day today and will continue picketing tomorrow. This will continue next week, with more full-blown strike action likely until management listens to our demands.”

More than 200 workers, including tour guides, boat crews, marketing and ticket salespeople, have downed tools because they said their employer refused to enter further discussions and negotiations, Chevon Booysen reported earlier.

Union members are demanding, among others, a 9% across the board salary increase along with a two-year salary agreement and a R2 000 once-off cash payment for every employee. More than 200 employees are picketing.

Nehawu provincial secretary-general Eric Kweleta said: “The strike is continuing until the employer decides to further consult with us. Since Monday there has been no move by the employer to renegotiate, which has resulted in the striking to continue."

On Monday, RIM chief executive Mava Dada said they had received notice of the strike, which was applicable to employees who were current members of Nehawu, and that non-union members had to report for duty as usual.

The Cape Argus reported that striking workers said they will not return to work until Arts, Sports and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa releases the Morar forensic investigation report into alleged corruption and maladministration in the management of the historic site.

“We also want an explanation in relation to the ferry (Krotoa) that was procured in Singapore last year," Kweleta said.

"There have been allegations that there was tampering with the supply management imperative and we want to find out what really happened. We also want to know how the museum’s funds are being utilised.”

Cape Times

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