Union ends Comair strike

GPS devices are critical to air travel. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
GPS devices are critical to air travel. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - Comair and the trade union UASA confirmed on Wednesday that they have reached settlement after a week-long strike by Comair’s airport ground staff.

Over the weekend, Comair implemented what it called a defensive lock-out of its airport staff, who have been on strike since April 13 2016. This led to UASA approaching the SA Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) on April 18 for an urgent intervention.

At the time of deadlock UASA demanded a 30% increase over three years, while Comair offered an unconditional 7.5% increase for each of the three years - therefore, 22.5% over the three year period.

On Tuesday April 19 the parties agreed to a wage increase of 10% in 2016, 7% in 2017 and 6% in 2018 - therefore, a total of 23% over the three year period. It will be effective as from January 1 2016. Airport ground staff are expected to report for duty on April 21 2016.

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve the wage dispute in a peaceful manner and we look forward to putting this behind us,” Comair CEO Erik Venter said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We thank those employees who have picketed, for doing so in a peaceful manner, while they exercised their right to strike."

He also thanked those airport staff who were scheduled and reported for duty over the last week as well volunteers from all over the business who had helped out.

“Our deepest gratitude to our customers for their understanding and who have heeded our call to check-in online in preparation for their departure. This has helped us tremendously to avoid disruptions,” said Venter.

UASA spokesperson Jannem Goussard said the intervention by the CCMA Commissioner played a significant role in bringing the parties to an agreement.

“We have committed to rebuild relationships with Comair management and employees in general, and are extremely pleased with the manner in which the strike unfolded and ultimately came to an end," said Goussard.

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