Protests as Sun International Employees Demand More
Sun International is a name that is synonymous with the South African casino industry. With casinos and resorts across the country, continent and around the world, the company is an employer of thousands and has a consistently large turn over annually.
In the past few days, the Land Based Casino giant has found itself in what some would describe as rather a lot of hot water. Employees at Sun International’s Boardwalk Hotel and Casino in Port Elizabeth have marched in protest of a wage increase they feel is, to quote one employee, ‘a joke’.
Sun International has planned a 7% wage increase for the majority of its employees, but with the cost of living increasing in South Africa on a consistent basis, the employees are not impressed. When over 150 employees of the Boardwalk protested on Friday 25th September, there were calls to increase the amount to 8%, because many employees are struggling to make ends meet. The demand was originally for an 11% increase.
The conflict between Sun and its employees is not as simple as the 1% difference in pay rise. In April, after a service provider to Sun put off workers, Sun employed them. Their wages were brought into line with Sun’s employees. But then a second group of outside workers were employed, whose wages had been equal to or higher than those of Sun’s original employees. This second group is part of the 7% wage increase offer, while the first group to start at Sun will only be eligible for a raise in July 2016.
Hours of employment are also a sticking point in the negotiations between Sun and the employees, represented by the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAW). Last year, SACCAW agreed with Sun that permanent part-time employees would receive 120 hours per month, but now the union wants 160 hours. According to Sun International spokesman Michael Farr, this would constitute a 33% increase in wages.
While not wanting to give employees an 8% wage increase, the casino industry leader is happy to give their employees an 8% housing subsidy increase. Meanwhile, to add to the disillusionment of employees of Sun, workers in the food and beverage unit of the company are being left out of the wage increase deal.