The Cresta Lodge salary dispute between employees and management has pulled the unions together, increasing the pressure on the hotel chain to bow to demands for a 13 per cent pay rise.
“We have solidarity and support from the workers unions at Botswana’s mines, Botswana Power Corporation, and the Botswana Federation of Public Sector and Manual Workers Union,” declared Nicholas Motiki, the executive officer of Botswana Hotel Travel and Tourism Workers Union (BHTTWU).
Cresta Lodge workers countrywide have embarked on a countrywide strike after negotiations with management over a salary increase stalled, then collapsed.
“Management gave us peanuts after we initially demanded a 25 percent pay rise. We raised the issue with the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs which has failed to mediate after several meetings with management. During that time the management asked for arbitration but we refused and resorted to strike,” said Mpho Moloi, the BHTTWU national chairperson.
“Cresta Lodge have enough money to meet the 13 percent salary increase. We are not interested in the 10 percent offered they reduced our demand from 25 percent,” added Moloi. “This hotel does not take care of us.”
He charged that more than P2 million was spent on a five-day leisure trip to Malaysia for the general managers and other managers with their husbands, wives and friends “instead of giving us the 13 percent pay rise”. He said Cresta continued to sponsor many students in tertiary institutions and indulge in expensive charitable activities while ignoring workers’ demands.
A Cresta chef, who asked not to be named, said workers had in vain tried to convince management that changes in the market place called for a salary rise. “Our salaries have remained static after the rise in inflation, transport fares and rent,” he complained.
One of the workers, Bikie Obonetse, said management had refused to show them audited books to confirm if Cresta did not have enough money to increase salaries. Other workers complained about the conditions of work. “I am usually forced to work unpaid overtime,” said Mmoloki Masisi, a barman.
Motiki, the BHTTWU executive officer said management had adopted an intransigent position by refusing to communicate with the workers. By press time, management were unavailable for comment.