Comair will seek to ground Numsa strike at Labour Court

Comair will seek to interdict a strike for which the National Union of Metalworkers of SA gave 48 hours' notice on Tuesday, the company said in a statement.

The notice comes after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration issued a certificate of non-resolution to the union and Comair in late March after the two failed to reach an agreement on a salary discrepancy dispute.

At the heart of the dispute are 21 personnel - 3% of the bargaining unit - whose salaries vary from their colleagues. In one instance, according to Comair, the staff member in question earns R7 900 more.

Numsa members make up just over 700 of Comair's ground staff of 2 200, according to the company.

In a Comair statement, the company said it has approached the Labour Court for an urgent interdict to prevent the strike and keep operations going for the Easter period.

"Comair is unable to support Numsa’s demand to increase the salaries of the rest of the 683 employees in the bargaining unit to match the highest of the 21 outlier salaries," the statement said.

Comair’s executive director in the company’s airline division Wrenelle Stander said the company would "do everything possible to minimise the impact of any strike action on customers".

"We encourage customers to check-in online or at the self-service kiosks at the airports and to drop their bags at the bag-drop counter. Employees from across the business have volunteered to help limit possible disruption," said Stander.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 that a considerable number of Comair ground staff were represented Numsa and that the company would feel the blow of a strike.

"We are the majority union on at Comair, so a strike by Numsa would have a considerable impact on operations at the company," said Hlubi Majola.

In January, Comair - operates British Airways and kulula.com in SA - reached a wage settlement with Numsa on salary scale structure, averting a strike.

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