Airline faces strike action

Kea' Modimoeng

Kea' Modimoeng

As the festive season draws near strike action looms at South African Airways (SAA) over the outsourcing of the airline's reservations and Voyager call centre.

SAA wants to transfer about 250 call centre staff members to specialist IT services company Dimension Data. The staff members have also been offered voluntary retrenchment packages.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union this week received permission to strike from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), but has suspended the action "to allow negotiations to take place", said Israel Mphahlele, the union's Gauteng chairman.

But, Mphahlele warned: "If we don't reach an agreement by the coming weekend, we will then re-issue a notice for strike and it will definitely start next week Wednesday."

The union is opposing a move by the company to outsource the call centre operations because that would mean that permanent jobs are replaced by casual jobs.

"SAA is trying to compromise quality jobs with part-time casual jobs and this will impact negatively on workers," said Mphahlele.

SAA said yesterday it would "now approach the Labour Court to review the issuing of the certificate" by the CCMA to the union which allows members to strike.

Mphahlele said the dispute comprised of other factors. "We are also fighting for the extension of the retention bonuses to ordinary employees because management gave themselves bonuses under mysterious situations as they didn't explain the criteria.

"Another problem we are facing is the use of labour brokers (recruitment agencies) because they are paid millions of rands but they exploit employees by underpaying them," said Mphahlele.