13 January 2013

South Africa: Clarity On Union Needed to Avoid Further Strike Action At SAA

press release

It has been reported that South African Airways (SAA) again narrowly avoided ongoing strike action by reaching an interim agreement with new transport union, the National Transport Movement (NTM). While it is a relief that the national carrier reported no interruptions to flight operations on Friday following the suspension of strike action by NTM, a number of questions were raised that need to be clarified.

The NTM and SAA are in disagreement regarding the number of members belonging to the union, and the interpretation of a report issued by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). NTM deputy general secretary, Liver Mngomezulu, claims that the union has more members than other unions that are recognised by the airline, and further claims that the report by the CCMA indicates that they must be recognised. SAA, however, claim that the union lacked the 30% threshold to join the bargaining unit.

In order to avoid further disputes, and the possible resumption of strike action, the true facts need to be ascertained.

I will therefore submit a request for a report on all unions within SAA to the Chairperson of Parliament's Public Enterprises committee. The report needs to detail the names of all recognised unions, numbers of members of all unions, names of any unions that have applied for recognition from the airline and finally, names and qualifications of SAA board members tasked with negotiating with the unions.

SAA is already struggling to remain operational and can ill afford to be grounded by a lack of consensus on the membership of its unions.

Natasha Michael, DA Spokesperson on Public Enterprises

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