Thursday, July 18, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: Over four-thousand SAA staff to strike today over wage dispute; allege discrimination.

SAA logoOver 4000 South African Airways (SA) employees in the airline's cabin and ground crew sectors will, from today, embark on a strike proclaimed by their trade union, the South African Transport & Allied Workers' Union (SATAWU), after SAA's management "unilaterally" went ahead and implemented a 6.23% wage rise with benefits; an offer previously rejected by the union.

According to SATAWU, workers will proceed with the strike today, Thursday July 18, having previously suspended it last week when last ditch talks were convened.

Union spokesman, Vincent Masoga, said in a statement issued late on Wednesday that workers were in the midst of considering another offer of a 6.5% wage rise across the board when SAA's "recalcitrant" management went ahead and implemented the deal for 6.23% with benefits. He said workers had now retreated to their previous demands for an 8.33% increase in basic salary, housing allowance, Medical Aid and meal allowances respectively.
"Since the employer has reneged from the potentially agreeable offer in a rather very strange and disappointing manner, workers have felt betrayed, undermined and discriminated against by the employer," he said.
In a media response, SAA claimed that SATAWU had misrepresented facts to its membership with the aim of inciting a section of the airline’s employees to embark on the strike action on matters that are not related to the wage negotiation process.
"For purposes of clarity, SAA once again reiterates that should an agreement be reached on the offer, employees would receive the difference between the 6.23% increase and the 6.5% increase across the board, at the next pay date.

The misunderstanding and miscommunication presented by Satawu is regrettable, particularly pertaining to the bulk of employees, who have indicated their willingness to accept the above offer."
SATAWU further demanded an end to what it called the "preferential treatment" of SAA's pilots, whom they allege, are given "evergreen" contracts coupled with 15% wage increases. It further claimed that the pilots are given "segregated hotel accommodation" separate to that of other crew:
"...pilots refuse to stay on the same floor with cabin crew, pilots families enjoying free business and first class seats even at the expenses of passengers who pay and their earnings and meal allowances offered in dollar currency therefore continuing their unequal privileges compared to other workers."
It went on to allege that given that 98% of pilots at SAA are white, this "kind of a setup perpetuates racial inequalities" therefore rendering SAA`s employment equity policy implementation impossible.

SAA claims it is still eager to continue talks with the unions on the revised offer and is committed to an amicable resolution of this matter.