Call for 'essential services' declaration in aviation industry to prevent strikes

Declaring some aviation services 'essential' would prevent employees from striking.
Declaring some aviation services 'essential' would prevent employees from striking.
Image: 123RF/pat138241

Certain aviation industry services should be declared “essential”, which prohibits employees from striking. 

That is the view of DA MP Dr Michael Cardo, who wrote to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration's (CCMA's) essential services committee recommending the change.

“Employees engaged in essential services are prohibited from exercising their constitutional right to strike,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

Cardo explained that section 213 of the Labour Relations Act defined an “essential service” as one which, if interrupted, would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or any part of the population.

Cardo suggested that pilots and technical ground and air staff, responsible for passengers’ health and safety, be regarded as performing an essential service.

“Given the strict security provisions at airports, and the fact that many of the functions rendered by aviation logistics companies require specialised employees, it is difficult to find replacement labour in the event of a strike. This underscores the case for designating these services as essential in the aviation sector.”

The call came after a claim by the National Union of Metal Workers of SA (Numsa) at the weekend that it may not be safe to fly on the airline during a weekend strike.

Cardo described this as “bullying brinkmanship” by the union.

Workers affiliated to Numsa and the SA Cabin Crew Association are demanding an 8% salary increase, which the cash-strapped airline says it can't afford.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.