SAA staff strike: Acsa asks travellers to confirm their arrangements

2013-08-26 00:00

FLIGHTS in and out of King Shaka International Airport may be affected from today with SAA staff planning to down tools in a countrywide strike.

The Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) has urged all travellers to confirm their travel arrangements before arriving at all major airports, including O.R. Tambo International Airport and King Shaka International Airport.

The basis for the strike action is the South African airline carrier’s refusal to concede to a one-off pay-out of 0,4% to 1  300 technical ground staff at several airports in South Africa.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) believes the one-off payment estimated to total between R3 million and R5 million, is due to their workers and SAA’s refusal to pay is a sign that the state-owned carrier is an “enemy of the poor”.

SAA and the union have been locked in negotiations for two months. In a separate, but linked, issue they had already agreed in principal to a 6,5% annual increase.

Acsa media liaison officer Unathi Batyashe-Fillis urged travellers to contact their respective airlines to get a confirmation of their travel arrangements.

“Given the status afforded to our airports by the National Key Point Act, Acsa has assured passengers that no striking workers will be permitted to demonstrate at any of its airports.

“The company is monitoring the situation closely across its network of nine airports and has advised that it will utilise its resources to provide support to the airlines in order to minimise any potential operational disruptions,” said Batyashe-Fillis.

On a daily basis, Acsa facilitates approximately 650 departing flights across its airports to local, regional and international destinations.

Satawu spokesperson Vincent Masoga has called the strike action the “last resort”.

“The strike is worth it [over the 0,4%]. The workers are on the offensive against management. If workers don’t fight for what is due to them, they will not get it … We must have a show of force,” said Masoga.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed Satawu had served the company with a notice on Friday afternoon, indicating that the union intends to embark on an industrial action today.

“We have put contingency measures in place in order to ensure that there are no disruptions on all our operations. We do not anticipate any disruptions, as we are of the view that our employees will do the right thing and choose to report for duty. They are aware of the global economic environment affecting all airlines.

“Secondly, they appreciate the financial position of the company at the moment, and understand that the company offer is both fair and reasonable under the circumstances,” he said.

In 2012/13, Satawu confirmed their members received a six percent increase.

The cash-strapped SAA has not been without controversy in recent months. The airline reported in May that they would borrow R1,5 billion from two private banks for working capital using a R5 billion guarantee issued by National Treasury in September 2012 to secure the loan.

Late last year, the airline was rocked when the majority of the 11 board members resigned, including then chairperson Cheryl Carolus, citing a lack of support from the Department of Public Enterprises, the turnaround strategy and the airline’s failure to table its financial report on time.

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