Mercedes Benz Sweet Service and Robben Island Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to St Elmo Burger and his team at the Mercedes Benz workshop at Century City.  The roof-opening button of my car had come off, and the mechanic Jacques managed to fix the problem quickly and at no charge. This is not the first Sweet Service Award that this workshop has received.  St Elmo always looks for a cost-effective solution to a problem.  I even received a cappuccino on the house whilst waiting for the repair to be done.

The Sour Service Award goes to Robben Island, for its staff going on strike until they receive a R3500 a month salary increase. They also demand that the Island be closed for business on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Workers rejected an offer of a 6 % increase, and an alternative R10000 once-off payment to staff, reports the Cape Times. About 70 % of the workers have gone on strike, and had to be replaced by untrained staff, which was reported to a safety body, which did an inspection on one of the ferries, inconveniencing the passengers, in not allowing them to disembark. This is the third Sour Service Award for Robben Island, a prime tourism facility which continues to be plagued with management and technical problems, affecting tourists in Cape Town.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the website.

POSTSCRIPT 9/11: The Cape Times reported yesterday that the Robben Island workers are still striking, but have reduced their wage increase demand to R 2000, and have dropped their demand to not work on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day this year.  However, they are demanding that some of them be given the day off on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day next year.   Due to about half of the workers being on strike, only two of the four daily scheduled ferry trips are running daily.  The problem is so serious that Cape Town Routes Unlimited, followed by Cape Town Tourism, have asked for drastic action to end the strike.  Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold said that the strike affects visitors’ perception of Cape Town as a destination.

POSTSCRIPT 17/11: The Robben Island strike has ended, according to a media release sent by Cape Town Routes Unlimited today.

4 replies on “Mercedes Benz Sweet Service and Robben Island Sour Service Awards”

  1. Deon says:

    I feel it is unfair for us to expect that the Robben Island workers must be on duty on Christmas and Boxing day when you would be hard pressed to find ANY museum or gallery in Europe open on those two days…

  2. Thank you for your commnet DEon.

    I cannot agree – if you work in tourism, you commit to work every public holiday and weekend day. Christmas and New Year sees the largest number of tourists in Cape Town – we need every one that comes this season!


  3. Douglas says:

    Well said Chris. Working in the tourism sector is a choice you make. It has many pro’s & con’s. Working on a public holiday is just one of those things.
    Infact these days, even most retail staff have to work on these days. The important thing is, do they get paid accordingly?

  4. Rose says:

    I endorse your sentiments about the workers going on strike. You have to take it on the chin if you are in a business that requires trade on public hols.

    Lots of things happen in Europe that don’t happen in the other parts of the globe. Each country and sector has to carve out its own niche and apply it own rules and standards. At the moment,this is the way we do it here.

    As an example – In the UAE their week end starts on a Thursday evening, ending on a Saturday night. – does that mean that we should do the same here??

    Having said all of that, would it not be ideal then for the workers to look for a compromise. Instead of demanding the two days, settle for one of the two. And Christmas day off, would be my choice, were I in their shoes.

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