Blow to vuvuzelas in strike

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

The Labour Court yesterday granted an interdict ordering the Health and Other Service Personnel Union of South Africa (Hospersa) members to stop blowing vuvuzelas in the vicinity of Kruger National Park during their strike.

The interdict was sought by the South African National Parks (SANParks). The court action followed alleged acts of misconduct and intimidation of staff and visitors by the strikers at various parks, specifically the Kruger National Park.

"In practical terms this means that striking Hospersa members will cease their unlawful conduct in the park, including the blowing of any noisy instruments," said SANParks chief executive David Mabunda.

"They are also prevented from trying to prevent staff and guests from entering the park and from vandalising SANParks property," he said.

He said SANParks had been engaged in negotiations with the majority union, The South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union, for years in order to better serve the needs of its workforce.

Mabunda said workers' demands were negotiated through the bargaining forums of the union.

"I would like to reiterate once again that as much as Hospersa has every right to embark on strike action when they are unhappy with their working conditions, this action [of blowing vuvuzelas and intimidating staff and visitors] is in direct contravention of the majority approach agreed to with the recognised union, which has an approach clearly favoured by the Labour Relations Act.

"We at SANParks hope that the union leadership will go back to build the membership of the union so that they might have an opportunity to be a democratically elected majority union to represent the needs of the workers at SANParks," he said.

SANParks reported that despite what the public had been led to believe, the strike had not seriously disrupted services since it started last week because most employees had been reporting for work.

He said despite the strike, guests would receive the standard of service they had come to expect from the park.

"The reality is that the striking members of Hospersa are too few to cause any severe impact to the systems and services of SANParks," said Mabunda.

The strike concerns SANParks' refusal to bargain collectively with Hospersa over pay and conditions of service.

The workers were still gathering for a march to the park yesterday at the time of going to press.