Media statement by Ms Rooksana Omar

Chief Executive Officer, Iziko Museums of South Africa

NEHAWU Industrial Action at Iziko Museums of South Africa

Iziko Museums of South Africa received notification from the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) of the unions’ intention to embark on a picket on Monday, 17 and Tuesday, 18 February 2020, between 12h00 and 14h00, followed by an indefinite strike as of Wednesday, 19 February 2020. The picket took place at the following museums in Cape Town:

  • Iziko South African Museum, Queen Victoria Street
  • Iziko Slave Lodge, C/O Wale and Adderley Street
  • Iziko South African National Gallery, Government Avenue

The industrial action is related to negotiations over the draft Recognition Agreement, a wage increase of 12%, and related matters. Iziko Museums of South Africa and representatives from NEHAWU met on Monday to negotiate over matters arising out of the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Iziko has met with the union to negotiate about their demands. With regards to the demands of the union, they want a 12% increase is unaffordable as the allocation that we receive from the DSAC covers 97% of our personnel cost and Iziko does not have any funding for operational and core expenses. To continue to bring a professional service, Iziko has to raise funds for our operations. However Iziko has offered the employees a 5.5% increase, which is above the 4.5% inflation rate. The increase we have offered our staff is concomitant with the subsidy increase we receive from the DSAC.

The employees want free parking but the cost of parking in the CBD is very high, and Iziko Museums’ staff pay a maximum of R78 per month.

We recognise and uphold the employee’s right to strike and we will do everything in our power to ensure that the strike does not negatively impact on the experience of the visitors to our museums and we are asking them to bear with us during this strike period.

The merger of five separate institutions, geared towards creating a representative cultural heritage sector, resulted in Iziko Museums of South Africa – like many other institutions impacted by the Cultural Institutions Act of 1998 – inheriting the costs and obligations of an amalgamated workforce.

These complex issues relate to Retirement benefits, Housing subsidies and Medical Aid Benefits. The current Iziko Management has to find solutions that are financially viable for the institution, bearing in mind that there are legislative implications.

The previous Council (2016 – 2019), being fully aware of the disparities, began the process to undertake an analysis of these inconsistencies. The process was not concluded when the new Council was appointed and this Council will be ceased with this matter.

Compiling a staff costing forecasting exercise requires careful consideration and input, as it impacts on the organisation’s financial position not only in the short–term, but substantially into the foreseeable future. Iziko recognises the urgency of these matters, but must fulfil its fiduciary responsibility – as not to overcommit its finances.

Iziko Management are acutely aware of the economic climate and factors such as the increase in the cost of public transport and the increase in living cost, impact the pockets of staff. We are sensitive to their demands but we have to work within the constraints we have.

At the last meeting with the Chairperson, the Union agreed to negotiate with Iziko over unresolved matters. Iziko is quite keen to continue negotiations with the employees in good faith.

Issued by Ms Rooksana Omar, Chief Executive Officer

 

ENDS