Bathers locked out of Joan as workers fight over pay

More than 60 bathers, including shocked children, were escorted out of Joan Harrison swimming pool yesterday, after which staff locked themselves inside the public facility until Buffalo City Metro management attended to their grievances.

Around 80 employees from pool amenities throughout the BCM region gathered to protest at the Joan Harrison complex after they discovered 40 hours’ labour had been deducted from their salaries when they received their payslips on Monday morning.

This is the second time the public has been denied access to BCM swimming pools, which opened for the summer season on October 16.

The previous interruption was for a week at the end of October leading into November when worker protests over “job descriptions” led to the swimming pools being closed.

BCM communications officer Bathandwa Diamond said the employees were in breach of their contract when they closed off the facility as it was an unprotected strike.

Shop steward Zola Capucapu said: “We’ve had several meetings about our grievances but seemingly none of them have been addressed, which is why problems reoccur.

“Our problem with our job description dates back to 2011.

“There is also the issue of management that we are not happy with.”

Capucapu said they reopened the doors to the public yesterday afternoon after management agreed to negotiate the reimbursement of the 40 hours that had been deducted.

A meeting is scheduled between BCM’s labour department, the union and Public Amenities management today.

Yesterday about 60 pupils from Buffalo Flats Primary school, along with their teachers, were ushered out of the swimming pool complex, cutting their swimming expedition very short.

Buffalo Flats Primary principal Neville Goss said the children were enjoying their year-end outing when they were suddenly told to leave the pool facility.

“It was sad to hear from the pupils that some of the staff had thrown dirt bins into the pools while they were swimming, because they are just children and shouldn’t be affected by the labour disputes.”

Goss said he was notified by teachers accompanying the children that they were forced to leave the pool despite having forked out about R500 to use the pools for the day.

Ward 4 councillor Tessa Botha said she was notified about the incident by a swimming instructor who was at the pool at the time.

“This is a public facility which shouldn’t be affected regardless what the labour issues.”

Bather Peter Fielding, who has a seasonal ticket, says he was disappointed to find the pool closed when he went for his daily swim.

Law enforcement officials struggled to enter the facility, while children lingered outside until management attended to the employees, who later opened the pool to the public. —

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