Three unions representing 5,000 workers lock horns with SANParks
Three unions representing about 5,000 workers at SANParks have declared a dispute with their employer after failing to reach an agreement on wage increases.
The staff include field guides, petrol attendants employed by SANParks in the parks, as well as receptionists and hut attendants in all of the 21 national parks managed by SANParks.
The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) said it had declared a dispute against SANParks after months of protracted wage negotiations which began in May.
Hospersa spokesperson Kevin Halama said two other unions, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) were joining the dispute to negotiate for better working conditions.
“We are happy that organised labour at SANParks is speaking with one voice on this matter,” Halama said.
SANParks manages national parks in various provinces of South Africa, including prime tourist destination the Kruger National Park.
Halama said the unions first came with a demand of a 15% wage increase, while the employer initially offered 4%.
“The final meeting took place last week where we reduced our demand to 11.5% and the employer made a final offer of 5.5%. We declared a dispute with the employer.
"We are awaiting a date at the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for the dispute to go on conciliation,” Halama said.
He said if the CCMA issued a certificate of non-resolution of the dispute, the unions would embark on a strike which would affect a number of nature reserves controlled by SANParks.
SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla said it was aware of the dispute.
“There is a formal process under way at the CCMA to resolve the impasse. We have to await on the pronouncements of the CCMA on the matter,” Phaahla said.
Phaahla said another dispute between the employer and the unions was still under negotiation. This concerned Sunday and holiday pay, for which employees were paid 0.5% on top of what they normally earned. He said the employees were demanding 1.5%.