Three unions representing workers at South African Airways (SAA), and who have formed a coalition to jointly protect the interests of their members at the embattled State-owned airline, have warmly welcomed a ruling by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) in their favour. The unions are the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Solidarity and the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA).
The CCMA ruled that SAA had to include the three unions in its retrenchment consultation process. The airline had previously excluded them.
According to the three unions, this situation arose because SAA, in disregard of the Labour Relations Act, told the media that it planned to retrench 944 employees, without first consulting with the unions representing the workers. Consequently, SAA was obliged to invite unions to consultative meetings. But it invited only some of the unions, and ignored Satawu, Solidarity and AUSA.
Following legal advice, the three unions approached the CCMA on the matter. “[T]he unions … were delighted when the CCMA ruled with absolute certainty that they had to be included in the consultation process,” they stated in their press release. “The commission was also adamant the scope of the consultation must included non-organised workers.”
The three unions are also currently negotiating with SAA Technical over salary increases. Satawu, Solidarity and AUSA have rejected an unguaranteed offer of 5.9% and have been issued with a strike certificate, which can only be implemented after November 22.
Meanwhile, SAA announced on Wednesday that it would resume some flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town, Durban and Victoria Falls on Thursday. “SAA would like to record its appreciation for those staff deciding to work despite receiving threats and intimidation from the unions,” stated the company. “It is clear that SAA’s people are increasingly determined to put our customers first.”