Union threatens to shut down KZN wildlife offices

Workers say Ezemvelo Wildlife is poorly managed and they accuse management of nepotism

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Photo of protesters
About 100 members of The Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) marched to the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife offices in Pietermaritzburg on Friday. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

About 100 members of The Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) marched to the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife offices in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

The contract workers are demanding to be made permanent employees. They carried placards, chanted and sang.

The provincial secretary for HOSPERSA, Popson Kunene, said the employer had failed to resolve a number of problems since 2016.

“They terminated contracts of some workers who have worked for over three years. They then employ their relatives without considering the employees who have been serving the organisation for years,” said Kunene.

“We have sent another list of demands to the employer jointly with National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU). Unfortunately, there have been delaying tactics by the employer,” said Kunene.

Kunene blamed the “high level” of rhino poaching in the province on poor management, poor planning and a “lack of leadership” by the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Board.

“In some of the reserves there is a high level of staff shortage. There are instances where field rangers have to go alone without any assistance,” he said.

A worker, who asked not to be named, said, “The rationalisation process is not fair to us. They don’t advertise the posts, they just employ whoever they want. There are no proper procedures that are being followed or contestation for positions.”

He said, “The staff have no proper uniforms. We just use whatever we have to wear during working hours.”

He also said Ezemvelo suffered “poor management”.

HOSPERSA Provincial chairperson Thami Zondi told GroundUp that if the workers’ demands are not responded to within 14 days they will embark on a full-blown strike.

“We will shut down these offices. That is not a threat but a promise. There are our members who are inside these offices. It’s time the organisation listens to the workers. This has been long overdue.

“HOSPERSA doesn’t fall under any political party. They might think we are sent by a political [group] as we are heading to elections. No one sent us. We only care about the well-being of the workers. The employer has been disrespectful,” said Zondi.

The memorandum was accepted by the chairperson of Ezemvelo board Dr William Mngoma. He told the marchers 14 days was a short time to respond. “I’m requesting that you give me more time. I don’t want to make promises that I can’t keep. There are processes that need to be followed. It’s not a delaying tactic. The board will meet on 9 April, therefore I’m requesting that you be patient until that date,” said Mngoma.

He said he might request a special meeting [of the board] to discuss the memorandum.

“Some of the issues would have to wait for the financial year [end], which is in April,” said Mngoma.

“Workers cannot wait until 9 April. We request that you respond to some issues before 14 days,” Zondi told Mngoma.

Mngoma agreed to respond to some issues, such as workers’ safety by Monday.

This article will be updated if there is a response.

TOPICS:  Environment Unions

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