MTPA staff up in arms as parks suffer

As a result fourteen Mpumalanga’s game reserves managed by the agency have been shut since Tuesday, as employees continue to protest, and this has also affected the operations at some parks.

It is led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), who are picketing outside the MTPA head office in Nelspruit.

“This employer does not have an ear, they don’t listen. We said before they advertise the posts let us roll out [the] recruitment process, let us finalise the placement plan. But the arrogance from the employer is that they were not willing to come and engage with us. Another thing is the issue of salary disparities,” Nehawu regional secretary Welcome Mnisi, was quoted.

But the MTPA is having none of it, citing the strike is illegal, according to MTPA chief executive Johannes Nobunga.

The unprotected industrial action undertaken by the staff of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) through NEHAWU in the past two days continues to affect operations at all the MTPA’s offices as well as its nature reserves throughout the province, read the press statement from MTPA.

“We have tried through Labour Management Forum to engage the leadership of NEHAWU on their concerns, however they have continued to refuse to engage in order to find an amicable solution. The engagement would allow both parties to reach a consensus and further ensure that we urgently resume operations at all our offices and nature reserves.

“The negative impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was slowly beginning to be addressed and this has the unfortunate negative effect to the positive development we were beginning to notice.

The reopening of our nature reserves is our priority as it will afford tourists an opportunity to continue with their planned trips to explore our various tourism attractions”, explained Nobunga.

“We have written to the NEHAWU Provincial Office to request them to withdraw from this illegal strike and allow staff members to come to work. Failure to respond to this request, we will be forced to interdict the illegal action. We do not want to force this on our employees, however we will be left with no option if this matter is not resolved as a matter of urgency.

We remain ready to engage further with NEHAWU in order to reach an agreement”, says Nobunga.

“We would also like to apologize to those that are inconvenienced by this strike. We are working tirelessly to ensure that our tourist attractions open soon in order for our visitors to have a memorable and safe experience. Our facilities will remain temporarily closed for the public until further notice.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update our stakeholders on progress made.

The other private tourism facilities in the province remain open for business. We would like to encourage visitors coming to Mpumalanga to enjoy their stay and explore more areas on offer in the province”, concluded Nobunga.

The affected are fourteen nature reserves which include Manyeleti, Blyde River Canyon, Songimvelo, amongst others.

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