Temporary interdict doesn't mean the dispute with Comair is over, says Numsa

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa told Fin24 on Thursday that a temporary interdict against its planned strike did not change the union’s dispute with airline operator Comair.

On Thursday afternoon the Labour Court granted Comair a temporary interdict against the strike, which Numsa had planned to kick off on Thursday. At the heart of the dispute are 21 personnel - 3% of the bargaining unit - whose salaries vary from their colleagues.

The Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration is due to meet with Numsa and Comair to assist in finding a mutually desirable solution to the impasse.

Comair’s executive director in the company’s airline division, Wrenelle Stander, told Fin24 that this meant Numsa members were expected to return to work.

Not resolved

However, Numsa acting spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 that the temporary interdict did not mean that the dispute at Comair had been resolved.

"But just because the strike has been interdicted, it does not mean that this strike is over. This is a long-standing issue created by the management team at Comair, who have failed to show leadership and vision in addressing this issue," said Hlubi-Majola.

Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 Comair was at fault for the deadlock, saying the company presented unsustainable solution to Numsa’s concerns.

'Unjustifiable' income

"They are the ones who went and paid workers unjustifiably higher income which created a situation where 23 workers are being paid much higher incomes than they should be in terms of the salary scale," Hlubi-Majola said.

She said a proposal from Comair - that workers who are higher wage earners should be denied increases until those who take home less in pay catch up - was "completely unacceptable".

"We are meeting with them later today. The CCMA has asked for intervention because of the fact that there remains a dispute to resolve. We are hoping that there is a meaningful way that we can find each other to reach an amicable solution," she added.

Stander told Fin24 that Comair had put its contingency plans into action on Thursday and that operations went swimmingly ahead of the busy Easter weekend, in spite of the demonstrations by Numsa members.

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