Kulula.com, British Airways operator says it has contingency plans in case of sympathy strike

Comair (Supplied)
Comair (Supplied)

Comair said on Wednesday that it has contingency plans in place should its ground or cabin crew decide to join in a secondary strike against South African Airways.

Comair operates its own low-cost brand, kulula.com, as well as British Airways in South Africa as part of a license agreement.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association have been on strike at SAA since Friday over wages, proposed job cuts and the demand that more workers be insourced. On Wednesday afternoon negotiations still remained deadlocked.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said earlier on Wednesday that the union had issued Comair with a notice of intent to strike. She said a separate notice has been issued to Air Chefs, which provides in-flight catering for SAA.

Comair told Fin24 on Wednesday afternoon that Numsa has been issued two certificates of non-resolution for disputes pertaining to both Comair's ground and cabin crew.

"Before embarking on a strike, Numsa has to conduct a secret ballot of its members, and thereafter give Comair 48 hours' notice. Comair has not yet received the required 48 hours' notice," the airline said. "Comair has contingency plans in place, should our ground and/or cabin crew choose to exercise their right to strike."

Numsa and Sacca said in a statement late on Wednesday afternoon that they are currently engaged in mediation under the auspices of the CCMA. The purpose of these talks is to find an amicable resolution to the strike at SAA and SAA Technical.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, meanwhile, has warned that the national flag carrier may not even be able to pay any salaries at the end of the month.  Speaking at a Parliamentary briefing on Wednesday, Gordhan said the SAA strike was worsening the airline's financial crisis. He has ruled out another bailout for SAA.

Over the past 13 years, the flag carrier has incurred over R28bn in cumulative losses. In his recent mid-term budget, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that the state would pay off SAA's government-guaranteed debt of R9.2bn "over the next three years" to honour the airline's contractual obligations.

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