Cape Town - Staff at the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC) are planning to down tools after a deadlock in annual wage increase negotiations.
They also claim they are not paid a full salary when the cablecar is not operational due to wind and that managers get double bonuses when occupancy levels are high.
It is the first time in its almost 87-year-old history that staff at the Cableway Company are going on strike.
Cosatu, which has pledged to support the Saccawu workers, said in a statement that the company paid over “millions in loyalties to an overseas company that runs the cableway, as well as paying a fortune to the board members”.
Crosby Booi, provincial secretary for the SA Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu), said they would be meeting with the shop steward committee and Cosatu over the weekend to decide on a date for strike action.
He claimed workers were being exploited and some of them were paid a lower salary than contract workers hired over the season.
But Wahida Parker, TMACC managing director, said that wasn’t true.
“The rate of pay for each person differs, based on tenure, experience and skill.
“Our permanent employees also receive benefits that contract workers do not receive.”
Regarding claims that workers weren’t paid in full when the cableway wasn’t running, Parker said that staff were paid for time worked.
“We guarantee hours despite the fact that the cableway is closed for up to 30 percent of its operational hours due to adverse weather.”
She said all staff received a 13th cheque, while additional bonuses “may be allocated based on performance criteria”.
Parker said the Cableway Company was not run by an overseas company.
“We do not pay any loyalties to overseas companies and we do not have any service level agreements with overseas companies.
“Technical work is carried out by TMACC staff who have been trained overseas.”
The cableway was governed by the Governing Body for Cableways, an international body that sets safety standards for cableways worldwide. “To this extent we do engage with Swiss-based service providers.”
Earlier Parker said Saccawu had asked for a 15 percent increase, while the company was offering nine percent.
“Our initial offer to the union was a tiered offer of between seven percent and 10 percent favouring lower earners. We have indicated our willingness to negotiate on the tiered approach, which was also rejected,” she said.
Parker also said that operations would continue, albeit with a limited number of staff, should there be a strike.
The company has 174 staff members, 114 of which are union members.
The cableway is one of Cape Town’s major tourist attractions and last December had its busiest month yet with nearly 150 000 visitors. And in February it welcomed its 25 millionth visitor.
Parker said visitors should check their website (www.tablemountain.net) or call the cableway office at 021 424 8181 to check the frequency of trips in the event of industrial action.