On 16 April, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), issued Comair with a strike notice. This allows those airport ground staff represented by NUMSA to strike from 13h00 on Thursday, 18 April 2019.
The notice follows the CCMA issuing a certificate of non-resolution on 26 March 2019, after the parties were unable to reach an agreement about a salary discrepancy dispute. Just over 700 of Comair’s 2 200 airport ground staff are NUMSA members.
Comair has a comprehensive contingency plan in place and intends to continue its daily operations.
“We will do everything possible to keep customers informed and minimise the impact of any strike action. We encourage customers to check-in online or at the self-service kiosks at the airports and to drop their bags at the bag-drop counter. Employees from across the business have volunteered to help limit possible disruption.”, Wrenelle Stander, Comair’s Executive Director – Airline Division, says.
“We remain open to ongoing engagement with NUMSA.”
NUMSA’s dispute centres on 21 personnel, comprising 3% of its bargaining unit, whose salaries differed from their colleagues earn upward of R600, and in one instance R7 900 more than their colleagues. These historic discrepancies arose from evolving airport operations, refinement of salary scales and retention initiatives as far back as 2009.
Comair is unable to support NUMSA’s demand to increase the salaries of the rest of the 683 employees in the bargaining unit to match the highest of the 21 ‘outlier’ salaries.
Comair is continuing talks to try and find a mutually acceptable solution. However, in order to ensure a continuous operation for its customers over the busy Easter period it has approached the Labour Court for an urgent interdict to prevent the strike.