19 November 2012

Mozambique: Lam Strike Ends After a Day

Photo: This Day
File Photo: Aircraft landing at the airport

Maputo — Cabin crew of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) have suspended the strike they began on Sunday morning, pledging to return to work on Monday.

A brief statement from LAM issued on Sunday night announced that the strike had ended with an agreement that satisfied both sides – but it gave no details.

About 70 cabin crew were on strike. Among their demands were a wage increase, extra pay for working at nights, and a review of the LAM professional career structure.

But the most serious grievance was an alleged lack of life insurance. “The passengers are insured, the cargo is insured, so how is it that we who transport these passengers are not insured?”, asked the strikers.

The management denies this claim. The technical director of LAM, Joao de Abreu, told reporters that LAM would never fly without life insurance, and regretted that the workers seemed unaware of this. He said that this insurance is collective and not individual.

The strikers say that the workers have not signed any insurance documents since 2005, and they demand proof that they really are covered by insurance.

“They say that the life insurance is guaranteed, but there’s no proof of this. For more than five years we haven’t signed any insurance documents”, one of the strikers told reporters. “The signature should be annual. The last group that signed was in 2005, and we can’t go on working under these conditions”.

Abreu also claimed that the wage issue had already been solved and that in January a wage increase of between 22 and 35 per cent would take effect.

It turns out that the LAM pilots did not join the strike – but passenger flights cannot be operated only by pilots. The company cast around for alternatives in order to keep to its schedules as much as possible.

Thus the 07.00 Maputo-Johannesburg flight used a South African Airways Boeing-737, rather than LAM’s Embraer-190, and was operated by a south African crew. The flight from Maputo to Dar es Salaam was delayed by more than an hour – and when it did fly, two of the strike leaders agreed to be stewards.

LAM entrusted its flights to the central cities of Beira and Quelimane to its subsidiary, MEX. But there was no way of saving the Maputo-Lichinga-Nampula flight, which was cancelled. It has been rescheduled for Monday afternoon.

LAM has not yet given any estimate for losses caused by the strike.

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