Some South African National Parks (SANParks) workers have downed tools after negotiations between the park and workers union HOSPERSA reached a deadlock.
The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) workers are demanding a 7.5% pay increase across the board, while the parks have offered them a 6.1% salary increase, 1% pay progression which will benefit some employees and a 0.4% once off payment. Efforts by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) have failed to resolve the salary dispute between the two parties.
The strike, which has been looming over SANParks was called off last week after it seemed as though negotiations are going positively. Now, negotiations between the union and SANParks have reached a deadlock over how the 7.5% increment is to be paid out to workers.
The action by the approximately 2000 workers affiliated to the union has affected the Kruger National Park, Agulhas National Park, Mokala National Park, Namaqua National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
According to HOSPERSA’s general secretary, Noel Desfontaines,the main point of contention at the moment was that workers want the increment to benefit all.
“Members are confused, we don’t want that pay progression. They must take it away completely and give us a straight 7.5% salary increase for everybody. This is now what’s causing the strike, this issue,” Desfontaines said. He also said that workers were unclear on why SANParks has decided to split the offer this way. Desfontaines said they had made a plea to the parks for a return to the negotiation table in order to resolve the dispute.
Head of communications of SANParks Janine Raftopoulos said the parks had explained to the staff the offer."SANParks has explained the criteria clearly to all employees and they will all benefit from the offer, some payments have been effected already." She added that the parks were also keen to return to the negotiation table. While the Parks had reported some disruptions at the Groenkloof., Phalaborwa and Orpen gates in the Kruger National Park, Raftopoulos said there had been no further disruptions and the park had contingency measures in place to ensure its operations are not affected.
Meanwhile the parks have also changed their scheduled winter bookings date because of the strike. "The holiday bookings for June and July 2018 will now open on 1 August 2017 as opposed to 25 July 2017 as originally planned," a statement read."SANParks, therefore would like to apologise to all guests for any inconvenience caused due to this unfortunate situation. “We want to give confidence to all guests that a resolution will be reached soon and all operations will be back to normal.”The bookings will open on 1 August from 07h30 for the call centres and email bookings. Online bookings will open on 2 August 2017 as per usual,''it said.
Guests have also been encouraged to continue with their plans to travel to the park.“For Bookings and updates, guests can visit the SANParks Website; www.sanparks.org alternatively guests can call our central reservations number: 012 428 9111” the statement said. Details of the next meeting between parties are still unclear.