Strike action shuts Mpumalanga game reserves

08 April 2021 - 08:14
By Mandla Khoza
Wild animals like lions in game farms in Mpumalanga will miss seeing the presence of humans after operations at the game farms came to a halt due to a strike.
Image: NADINE DREYER Wild animals like lions in game farms in Mpumalanga will miss seeing the presence of humans after operations at the game farms came to a halt due to a strike.

Fourteen game reserves owned by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) have been shut since Tuesday as employees downed tools, demanding better working conditions and for those in acting positions to be appointed permanently.

The employees, led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu), picketed outside the MTPA head office in Mbombela.

“This employer does not have an ear, they don’t listen. We said before they advertise the posts let us roll out [the] recruitment process, let us finalise the placement plan. But the arrogance from the employer is that they were not willing to come and engage with us. Another thing is the issue of salary disparities,” said Nehawu regional secretary Welcome Mnisi.

MTPA CEO Johannes Nobunga said the strike was illegal.

“The illegal strike has been sparked by a misunderstanding of the organigram which was set last year. On the issue of hiring the acting employees, we decided to be fair and advertise the posts so that anyone can apply,” Nobunga said.

“We have also advertised five positions for senior management. On the issue of moving employees to Mthethomusha game reserve, we had a problem there where the fence was damaged and we saw that the dangerous animals might hurt people in the nearby community. We had to get rangers from other reserves and also the Kruger National Park came to assist because that was urgent.”

Nobunga added that the strike is affecting the agency.

“As we speak, game reserves are closed, our head office is not functioning and we don’t know until when. Our tourists are being turned away as gates are closed. So we have asked to talk to the union and the employees to resolve this. And if they fail we will be forced to approach courts to get an interdict, which might be bad for them.” 

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