UPDATE: Comair avoids December disruptions on day one of CCMA talks

Comair (Supplied)
Comair (Supplied)

Comair has released a statement saying it managed to avoid strike-related disruptions to its operations in December after the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) committed to wage increase talks at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in January.

Comair asked the CCMA to mediate the matter just as Numsa sought to declare a strike, stopping industrial action in its tracks.

The company said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon that it and the union had made sufficient progress and would continue with discussions on salary increases on 11 January 2019.

The union's demands include a 12% salary increase, a guaranteed thirteenth cheque, more shop steward representation, a travel allowance and a shift allowance amounting to 15% of the employee's basic salary.

Comair operates Kulula Airways and British Airways in South Africa.

Comair executive director Wrenelle Stander vowed ahead of the company's mediation process with Numsa on Thursday that it would keep operations running through the festive season, even if talks fail and workers down tools.

"In the unlikely event of a strike, we will do everything possible to minimise disruptions to our customers' holiday travel plans. Comair will continue with daily operations. The safety of our customers and staff is our foremost priority," said Stander.

Stander said 375 of the company's 2 200 employees were Numsa members. Among some of the contingency plans that Stander mentioned included sending passengers alerts in terms of any disruptions 72 hours before check in, additional bag drop counters and additional staff.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said previously that with the profits Comair enjoyed in 2017/18, there was no excuse for the company to lavish bonuses on executives while neglecting workers. According to Jim, Comair had made a profit of R6bn in the last financial year.

"Workers are directly responsible for that performance. It was entirely through their efforts that the executives and the board are experiencing huge profits," Jim said.

According to Comair's website, profit after tax was R326m.

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