PE lifeguards on strike over job contracts

OFF DUTY: An empty lifeguard tower at Hobie Beach yesterday. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
OFF DUTY: An empty lifeguard tower at Hobie Beach Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Lifeguards at Port Elizabeth’s three blue flag beaches downed paddle boards yesterday, demanding an extension of their contracts or to be hired permanently.

The lifeguards at Humewood Beach, Hobie Beach and Kings Beach sat outside the Humewood Beach Office yesterday waiting to speak to a manager.

The strike started on Monday when they left their posts and went to the beach office at 9am.

“Lifeguards want a contract extension or permanent contracts. They have been on contracts for more than 10 years but [there] are no guarantees they will be permanent,” a lifeguard, who did not want to be named, said.

“All the pools and beach lifeguards from Kings, Humewood and Hobie were here [Monday] striking with their senior lifeguards.” About 18 lifeguards had left their posts, he said. Lifeguard contracts end in April, when the summer season comes to a close.

“Lifeguards complain they have worked for the municipality for years and their money is small,” the lifeguard said.

Nelson Mandela Bay executive director for sport, recreation, arts and culture Noxolo Nqwazi said the municipality would have a meeting with the lifeguards to discuss their concerns.

She said the municipality employed four permanent lifeguards, who worked with lifesaving clubs throughout the year.

“We advertise annually for lifeguards to be appointed on a seasonal basis for six months,” she said.

The municipality appoints up to 70 people during a six-month seasonal period.

“All beaches are currently manned,” she said. – Additional reporting by Hendrick Mphande

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