Durban’s Suncoast Casino employees keep pushing over wage dispute

The employees of Suncoast Casino, who have been picketing for the past six weeks, say that they will continue doing so till their employer accepts their demands. They started picketing on January 29, after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) gave them their picketing rules and the permission to picket.

Durban casino

The Employees’ Grievances 

One of the picketing employees said that their employer had promised them a 13th cheque and a contribution of 7.5% to the employees’ pension fund. But the casino changed its contract without any prior notice and sent each employee a text message letting them know about the changes.

According to the previous contract, each employee was supposed to receive the 13th paycheque before the end of 2020. The employee complained that the company refused their request for half the paycheque and said that the employees don’t even know why the company is refusing to give them their 13th cheque.

Another employee, who has been working at Suncoast Casino for the past 15 years, said that all the employees were furious. The protestors are all people who work at the casino. They have seen the money going down in drop boxes and very well know that the casino is making profits. Although the company has purchased a lot of material recently, it is claiming that it is running under a loss.

Providing further details of the picketing, the employee said that the protestors were not fighting for a raise or a bonus. The company has not even given them their annual raise. Instead, they are fighting for what they deserve, a 13th paycheque and a 7.5% contribution to their retirement fund. The Chief Editor of ZebraCasino commented that: “Industry needs to support these people that have done their fair share, they deserve to be paid.”

Picketing Under Rules 

Bigboy Motha, the national organizer of Future of South African Workers Union (Fosawu), said that the employees started picketing only after receiving the picketing rules from the CCMA. They had to do so as the law does not permit any picketing without rules. He said that the employees will continue to picket on the premises of Suncoast Casino every day and will revisit their mandate on Fridays.

Meanwhile, Suncoast Casino has chosen to remain silent. Motha has accused the company of taking undue advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic and changing contracts without prior notice and without consulting the union. Fosawu is the casino’s majority union. Motha complained that there has been no engagement of any kind from the casino.

The picketers were all employees of the Tsogo Sun, which owns Suncoast Casino. They include chefs and waiters too. He also said that the police arrested seven of the picketers, including himself when the strike was in progress.

Captain Nqobile Gwala, a police spokesperson, confirmed that the police indeed picked up seven of the picketers and took them to the police station. However, they did not book any case against the picketers but released them after giving them a warning.

Motha demanded to know why the police arrested them without any explanation along with four other men and two women and made them sit in a police van. However, he denied that the police gave them any warning as they were picketing with permission and under the prescribed rules.

When journalists questioned Suncoast Casino about the issue, the casino chose not to respond.

About Suncoast Casino 

Suncoast Casino is part of a huge entertainment complex called Suncoast Casino, Hotels and Entertainment to the north of the Golden Mile in Durban. It is located next to the Kings Park Sporting Precinct. Owned entirely by Tsogo Sun, the casino complex comprises several restaurants and offers both non-smoking and smoking zones.

In addition to Suncoast Casino, the entertainment complex includes a beach bar, several restaurants, cinemas, a semi-private beach, and many others. The beach is among South Africa’s top three beaches.

The designers of the entertainment complex wanted it to complement Durban’s large art deco heritage. Suncoast is home to South Africa’s biggest casino complex. Seven recreational cyclists used this complex as a base for their rides along the coast.

Also, the casino complex forms the starting point of the Tour de Nandos, a cycle race held every year in September and the ending point of the Amashovashova National Classic, which is held every year in October.  Another exciting event, the AI Grand Prix of Nations, is held in the streets that surround the casino at the end of January every year, the only street race in the AI calendar.

Suncoast Casino is no stranger to worker strikes and wage disputes. An IOL report of July 19, 2004 talks about a legal worker strike in which hundreds of employees participated. The South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union represented them.

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