uShaka Marine staff hopeful wage demands will be met

Workers from the uShaka Marine World marched to the Durban City Hall demanding better salaries. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Workers from the uShaka Marine World marched to the Durban City Hall demanding better salaries. Picture: Khaya Ngwenya/ Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 19, 2024


Durban — Striking staff members of uShaka Marine World say they hope their employers will heed their pleas and give in to their demands.

The workers are on strike after wage negotiations deadlocked at uShaka Marine World, which is an entity of eThekwini Municipality.

A lack of a settlement led to the matter being referred to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for intervention.

The workers, alongside their representatives from the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), took to the streets of Durban on Friday, marching from uShaka Marine World to the Durban City Hall to submit a petition listing all their grievances.

According to Xolani Dube the regional secretary of Samwu, the employer at Ushaka Marine World has been managing the theme park as if it were their spaza shop.

“There is a great need to stand together and deal with the growing trends of paying employees depending on the mood of certain senior management of uShaka. “uShaka Marine has become symbolic of many worker-rights violations and unfair labour practices.

“Now is the time that we demand full implementation of Deloitte’s salary report, which was partially implemented in 2016, from which only senior management benefited,” he said.

He said that workers had suffered enough with low salaries, not being supplied with uniforms since 2017 and selective payment of 81 employees during salary-scaled realignment.

“It is therefore our strong belief as Samwu that Ushaka does not care about the employees, owing to the announcement that management will, over and above two reports which are BDO and Deloitte, intends to employ another consultant to conduct the same research.

“This means they have more money to pay for consultants than to pay hard-working employees. The employer is not prepared to confront issues that have always been raised by workers,” said Dube.

Workers from uShaka Marine World marched to the Durban City Hall demanding better salaries. Photographer: Khaya Ngwenya / Independent Newspapers

They further called on the employer to meet the following demands:

-Full implementation of the Job Evaluation and Benchmarking Report of 2016 and utilisation of notches.

-To have a grading system at uShaka Marine World aligned to the parent mother, eThekwini Municipality-Task Grade.

-eThekwini Municipality to absorb the salaries of the entity’s employees.

-Skills audit of all the uShaka Marine World Management.

-Scrapping the hourly pay system.

-Resignation of senior management.

They further emphasised that these demands be addressed within 14 days from the date of submission of the petition and that failure to do so would result in further actions.

Dube cited that an engagement was expected to take place between the union representatives and the CCMA on Monday, to further discuss the matter.

ActionSA KZN Premier candidate Zwakele Mncwango said that this came as a concern.

“It is concerning to learn that wage increase talks have been ongoing for months, yet the employer and employees have struggled to find common ground. The fact that general workers at the theme park are paid less than R4 000 a month is shocking and unacceptable.

“While uShaka Marine has offered salary increases, including R1 300 for general workers and a 5%-6% increase for other grades, we firmly believe that these offers undermine the employees’ contributions to the theme park.”

Mncwango said that it appeared as though eThekwini Municipality was failing in its responsibility to address and resolve such disputes and that a lack of action risked losing another tourist attraction within the troubled municipality.

“Unfortunately, following the closures of Snake Park and the iconic Durban Fun World, uShaka Marine World stands as the sole theme park within our troubled municipality. Should uShaka Marine World fail to effectively manage the current situation, imminent closure is on the horizon, which will be yet another blow to our economy and the residents of eThekwini.

“Therefore, we urge the management of uShaka Marine World to prioritise settling these disputes with their employees, finding common ground, and working towards a viable solution. The livelihoods of hundreds of workers and the reputation of our municipality are at stake,” he said.

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