Festive season strike averted, says Comair

14 December 2018 - 07:42 By THETO MAHLAKOANA
A strike that could have disrupted flights by Comair has been averted - for now.
A strike that could have disrupted flights by Comair has been averted - for now.
Image: 123RF/Antonio Guillem

A crippling strike that would have affected Comair services during the festive season has been averted for now. Both parties will meet at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in January 2019 to resolve the pay dispute.

The airline, which operates domestic routes under British Airways and Kulula, is in a dispute with members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa).

Numsa is a majority union at Comair, meaning that if it embarked on a strike, services would be disrupted nationally, leaving holiday-makers stranded.

The union is demanding a pay rise of 13%, a guaranteed  bonus and travelling allowances, among other benefits.

On Thursday, December 13 2018, Comair said it was relieved that its customers’ travel plans were “unlikely” to be disrupted over the festive season. It also said it would continue engaging Numsa members to resolve the dispute.

However, it said there were contingency plans to minimise disruption if Numsa decided to go ahead with the strike in spite of the scheduled talks at the CCMA in the new year.

On Wednesday, December 12 2018, the union accused Comair of hogging profits at the expense of workers.

“In the last financial year, Comair made a profit of R6bn, which was an improvement of R452m from the previous financial year. Workers are directly responsible for that performance. It was entirely through their efforts that the executives and the board are experiencing huge profits. Workers have earned and deserve an increase and a living wage. The lowest paid worker earns R9,000 a month.

“They are denied a guaranteed 13th cheque and other allowances like the shift allowance and the daily overtime allowance, whilst the executives receive millions in guaranteed bonus pay-outs,” said Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.