Satawu SAA crew and staff strike for better wage increase

2013-07-19 00:00

A GROUP of South African Airways (SAA) cabin crew and ground staff went on strike yesterday after negotiations over their salary increase did not yield the desired outcome.

Those on strike are members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), which, together with the United Association of SA (Uasa), represents about 70% of SAA’s cabin crew and ground staff, according to Business Day.

However, Uasa members did not join the strike.

Satawu spokesperson Vincent Masoga told The Witness that the wage negotiations have been ongoing for about a month now.

He said the workers were demanding an 8,33 % wage increase, while the employer offered 6,23%.

“We are in a position where we feel that the employer is undermining the workers, because while we were still negotiating, they implemented their initial offer of 6,23%, excluding benefits.

“We were looking at a compromise of 6,5 % across the board, and an equivalent increase in benefits, such as medical aid and housing allowance. For that reason, we reverted to our initial demand,” said Masoga.

Uasa sector manager Willie van Eeden reportedly said the unions were meant to sign a wage agreement with the airline on Tuesday, after an in-principle agreement for a 6,5% increase to basic salaries, housing allowances and medical aid contributions was reached.

“Both unions were working together during the wage talks and we had expected to sign the agreement on Tuesday already for a 6,5% overall increase [except for pension contributions], but Satawu never showed up,” Van Eeden said.

“They have now decided to go on strike. I think it is the cabin crew issues they are still concerned about — those issues we have taken off the table for now. Uasa is not going to go on strike,” Van Eeden said.

When contacted again for comment on Van Eeden’s stand on the strike, Satawu’s Masoga said: “I can’t talk now. We’ll talk some other time. I have to go.”

SAA’s head of communication, Dileseng Koetle, told The Witness that the strike has caused no disruptions and it was business as usual. She said only 34 of their staff members took part.

“We are committed to business continuity and will do all that is necessary to avoid any inconvenience to our customers,” said Koetle.

She said SAA was open to discussion and eager to reach an amicable solution with all the parties concerned.

Airports Company South Africa spokesperson Colin Naidoo said their airports were not affected by the strike.

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