Three-week strike ends at South Africa’s Robben Island
Workers at Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was jailed during apartheid, called off their three-week strike after reaching a deal on medical benefits, a union leader said Thursday.
“We decided yesterday (Wednesday) to suspend the strike,” Luthando Nogcinisa, provincial secretary for the National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union, told the Sapa news agency.
“It was a mutual decision by the management and workers,” he said.
Workers at Robben Island, now a major tourist attraction in Cape Town, went on strike on October 26 to seek raises of up to 53 percent and a Christmas holiday.
About half of the island’s 225 workers joined the strike, hobbling the ferry service that provides the only link to the mainland.
Nogcinisa said Robben Island Museum had agreed to increase allowances for health insurance and to consider ways to close the wage gap between top management and lower workers.
“Management have agreed need to open negotiations on how the wage issue will be addressed,” he said.
However, the museum refused to close down during the Christmas holidays, which is Cape Town’s peak summer tourism season.
The island, first used as a leper colony in the 16th century, was a notorious prison for anti-apartheid leaders. Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on the island, which also held current President Jacob Zuma for 10 years.
Robben Island has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UN cultural agency UNESCO.