Durban's uShaka Marine World to close as workers strike for more pay
uShaka Marine World will be closed from Monday as workers prepare to down tools over the theme park’s alleged failure to implement a 2016 salary adjustment recommendation.
The entity, owned by eThekwini municipality, was alleged to have appointed an auditing company to conduct salary benchmarking in 2014. This was completed in 2016 but workers says recommendations were not implemented.
The South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) told TimesLIVE that they discovered this when a document was leaked to them in 2020.
“We went back to the table to discuss the issue of the benchmarking recommendations with the employer but they denied knowledge of it, saying we were relying on rumours and hearsay,” said Dumisani Luthuli, Samwu's shop steward at uShaka.
Luthuli said among the recommendations was that a cleaner, who was a grade 17 worker, should be paid R9,500 at the time, yet is even now being paid about R3,500 a month.
He said they tabled the benchmarking issue as one of their demands during the 2022/23 wage negotiations. However, a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitrarion (CCMA) commissioner at the time said the issue was not part of the collective agreement and could not be included.
He added that another firm was commissioned to conduct the work study and a came to a similar conclusion. “Again that did not materialise because uShaka said they couldn't afford it. They said they would source another one but came back saying they couldn't find it. That was a delaying tactic.”
Both parties were instructed to discuss the matter further but no agreement was reached. Another commissioner was appointed to resolve the dispute at the CCMA.
“They [uShaka] offered R1.5m to be shared by 333 workers but we refused. We asked for R2.5m but they said they couldn't afford it.”
After more failed attempts to resolve the dispute, Samwu began picketing from “late 2023”. They got the protest certificate on Thursday and served the 48-hour notice on Friday morning.
“The only reason we’re protesting is to force them to implement the auditor's recommendation to adjust salaries."
He said uShaka had offered a R1,300 increase for general workers (grades 13-17) while the other grades were offered increases of 5%-6%, which was rejected. He conceded that uShaka was not doing well financially but claimed managers gave themselves increases.
eThekwini municipality confirmed that the union had submitted its 48-hour notice to the theme park ahead of the industrial strike. It said uShaka had over the past few months been engaged in salary increase negotiations with the union representing the bargaining unit employees.
“Unfortunately, the parties have not been able to come to a settlement and this led to the matter being referred to the CCMA for intervention. Despite the employer’s best endeavours, the parties could not come to an agreement,” said the city.
uShaka will be closed for the duration of the strike, starting from Monday.
“The entity apologises for any inconvenience caused. This approach is considered the best option in the interests and safety of our guests and stakeholders.”
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