Kruger National Park faces delays as workers fail to report for duty

30 June 2019 - 15:42
By Nonkululeko Njilo
Kruger National Park management says it experienced minor delays after majority of employees withdrew labour on Sunday.
Image: PILANESBERG ELEPHANT-BACK SAFARIS Kruger National Park management says it experienced minor delays after majority of employees withdrew labour on Sunday.

SA National Parks (SANParks) management said there had been no disruptions at the Kruger National Park on Sunday amid a rumoured strike but that the majority of employees had stayed away from work.  

"We have just received a report and been informed that everything is running per normal - except that there were some minor delays in the operations," said SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla. 

The announcement comes after workers threatened to withdraw labour due to a dispute over payment for work on Sundays and public holidays.

"The dispute is over payments for Sunday and public holidays. The current format is 0.5% of what they currently earn but are demanding a 1.5% increase," said Phaahla.    

An independent assessment to look into the feasibility of granting workers a 1% increase was under way according to Phaahla. 

He said the park employed over 2,300 workers and those who had threatened to strike were in the minority. Following the threat, Phaahla said security and contingency measures had been put in place to deal with the possibility of a strike.

Gates including Phalaborwa, Paul Kruger, Phabeni, Numbi, Malelane and Crocodile Bridge Gate were expected to be affected.

Reluctant to disclose what measures had been put into place, Phaahla said members of the defence force and police service had been deployed across the park, while rangers from a volunteer group had also been roped in to help fill gaps left by workers staying away.  

Services at two rest camps in the Kruger Park - Letaba and Olifants - were affected last Sunday when members of staff failed to report for duty due to the labour dispute.

Management and union shop stewards met until late on Sunday afternoon where it was resolved that workers would return to their posts while their concerns were being addressed.

Reacting at the time, the managing executive of the park, Glenn Phillips, said "we are happy that our colleagues have agreed to return to work and I sincerely apologise to our visitors who were inconvenienced during this time".

Despite uncertainly on the possible strike, SANParks management advised those intending to travel to the Kruger Park for the school holidays not to cancel their bookings.