Hospersa is preparing to embark on a nationwide industrial action at South African National Parks (SANParks). A wage dispute was declared after parties could not reach an agreement. The Union has vowed to fight for better remuneration and improved working condition of its members at SANParks.
Hospersa, which is the majority trade union at SANParks, is embroiled in a wage dispute with the tourism giant. Parties deadlocked with SANParks offering a 6% wage increase while Hospersa’s mandate from its members is at 9%.
After parties deadlocked the Union referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for conciliation. The conciliation remains unresolved and a certificate of outcome declaring that the Union can embark on industrial action / strike as the next course of action to end the impasse.
Already at the start of negotiations this year, it became evident that parties would deadlock. SANParks remained inflexible and unwilling to pay an increase reflective of their reported profit, opening negotiations with an initial offer of a mere 4%. Our members have no choice but to exercise their right by embarking on a protected strike as per certificate of outcome from the CCMA.
The planned industrial action could not have come at a worse time for SANParks’ tourism haven, the Kruger National Park. The park is still searching for the four lions reported missing two days ago. The industrial action will hamper the search as close to 3000 workers will down tools in coming days, with most of them working in the Kruger National Park. These workers include Field Rangers, Field Guides and Petrol Attendants who form part of the critical functions for visitors’ experience. The Receptionists as well as Hut Attendants and Security Guards will also down tools.
The upcoming industrial action will affect operations at all of the 21 national parks managed by SANParks across South Africa. Aside from the Kruger National Park, the other parks that will be affected include the Agulhas National Park, Mokala National Park, Namaqua National Park, Mapungubwe National Park and the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.
During the industrial action, the day-to-day services like household and visitors’ activities like guided walks and game drives will be disrupted and petrol filling stations will remain unmanned. Visitors will have difficulty accessing the parks at entrance gates and camp receptions where services will also be affected.
Our members have made their position clear and will look to put pressure on SANParks to return to the negotiation table with a better offer. According to the SANParks 2015/16 annual report, they welcomed close to 6 million guests and generated a revenue of R1,29 billion which surpassed their budget by R93,8 million. These figures provide an indication that SANParks is able to present a better offer.
We have made numerous communication efforts including writing to the SANParks Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to try and avert the industrial action. To date, his office has not responded to our communication.
We also expected to conclude the negotiations much earlier so that both parties could address the unacceptable living conditions of our members’ living quarters at Golden Gate National Park, Darlington Dam Camp in Addo Elephant National Park and other camps. We will continue to engage with SANParks and work towards improving our members’ remuneration and working conditions.
Noel Desfontaines, General Secretary at Hospersa