Elephants share a morning meal at the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria. File picture: Etienne Creux

Pretoria - The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa (NZG) on Thursday warned it was facing a possible strike in the next 48 hours after it failed to meet workers' demands.

The NZG, which is an 85-hectare zoo located in Pretoria, said it had received a notice of the imminent strike from the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) earlier on Thursday. The notice was served in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

"The notice indicates that the members of the union at the NZG intend demonstrating and picketing after the expiry of the 48-hour notice period," said the national zoo in a statement. 

NZG said the unresolved dispute relates to an agreement it signed in 2009 with various trade unions on the implementation of a seven-day work week. 

"NTUC is now demanding that the agreement be cancelled and that employees be paid overtime for work performed during weekends," said NZG..

Managing Director, Dr 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.”

Nxomani added that the national zoo "would like to reassure" members of the public that in the event of a strike it had a contingency plan in place to ensure both the welfare of the animals and the safety of visitors. 

African News Agency