SAA: Air Chefs handling strike, passengers need not bring own lunch

State-owned airline SAA carried 6.9 million passengers in the year ending March 2016.
State-owned airline SAA carried 6.9 million passengers in the year ending March 2016.

Passengers on South African Airways, SA Express, Mango and SA Airlink may not need to pack a lunch for their flights, as advised by labour looking to strike at airline catering company, Air Chefs. 

SAA said on Sunday evening that its catering subsidiary, Air Chefs, had contingency plans in place to ensure that its passengers would not have to pack a lunchbox for flights due to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s plans to strike on Monday.

Air Chefs approached the Labour Court and obtained an interdict preventing industrial action from taking place. The union vowed on Sunday to challenge that interdict and urged passengers to pack a lunch for their flights on Monday.

The Labour Court will hand down judgement on Monday morning regarding whether the interdict will be upheld or not.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 that while the strike at Air Chefs was initially meant to commence at 06:00 on Monday, Air Chefs was confident that it had taken steps to ensure catering services were not halted on SAA, SA Express and Mango flights.

"Once in receipt of the notice, Air Chefs management took steps to ensure that if the planned industrial action occurred, there should be minimal or no impact on the operations of all Air Chefs customers including the airlines it serves," said Tlali.

Tlali said on top of the interdict, Air Chefs activated its contingency plans to ensure business continuity should the industrial action materialise in spite of the interdict.

"This means, measures are in place to mitigate the impact of the strike by NUMSA and to render services to all Air Chefs customers, including the airlines it provides catering services to. This has been communicated to all airlines including SAA," Tlali said. 

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 on Sunday evening that until judgement was handed down on Monday afternoon, Numsa could not strike. According to Traveller24: "The strike is said to be due to the withdrawal of anniversary bonuses, which have not been paid since the start of 2019."

The union was also in a stand-off with Air Chefs last year over claims the company was looking to retrench over a hundred staff members.

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