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Air Chefs strike declared 'unprotected' as labour court rules against union

07 October 2019 - 15:57 By Nonkululeko Njilo
The planned strike threatened to hurt food supplies on SAA flights. File photo.
The planned strike threatened to hurt food supplies on SAA flights. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy

The labour court has halted a planned strike which threatened to hurt food supplies on SAA flights and in airport canteens and lounges.

The court not only ordered the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) to halt the planned strike, but also publicly to declare compliance with the court order.

This after workers aligned to Air Chefs, a subsidiary of SAA, threatened to withdraw their labour.

The ruling was handed down by judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje on Monday after Air Chefs took to the court to file an urgent interdict declaring the strike action unprotected.

The union had warned there would be no food or catering services on several airlines and in airport lounges should the strike go ahead. It was set to affect major airlines in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union "vehemently" disagreed with the notion that its strike may not be protected.

"We remain convinced that in this issue, we were on the right side of the law and we will demonstrate that," Hlubi-Majola said after the court proceedings.

The union was further ordered to serve and file an affidavit demonstrating compliance in terms of the interim order by no later than 10am on Tuesday.

Tlhotlhalemaje said the union should distribute written communication to its members which should read: "On October 7 2019, the labour court issued an order declaring the planned strike to be unprotected and unlawful. We urge you not to embark on any strike and to continue working."

An order on the costs of the application was reserved until a return date, expected to be in November.

"We will abide by the ruling of the court. We don't necessarily have to wait for the date which they have given us. We can argue for an earlier date, which is precisely what we intend to do. Our members were ready for strike action and they continue to remain ready for strike action," said Hlubi-Majola.