Friday, August 30, 2013

■ SOUTH AFRICA: SAA Technical brokers deal with AUSA, breaks off talks with SATAWU over alleged incidents of violence.

SAA logoSouth African Airways Technical (SAAT), the maintenance subsidiary of the national carrier, South African Airways (SAA), has resolved part of an ongoing strike with the signing of a wage deal with the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA), said to represent "a large portion of engineers and technical staff at SAAT", on Wednesday August 28, 2013. However, negotiations with the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) have now been called off following what SAA called "striking SATAWU members’ disregard of the picketing rules and intensified unruly behaviour."

In a statement, SAAT noted that the agreement with AUSA had ensured that SAAT and the airline would be able to continue with operations with minimal, if any, disruptions. The wage agreement settled on is for a period of one year and entails a rise of 6.5% on total cost to the company; a 0.5% once-off payment and a further 1% increase for technicians flowing from the previous year’s wage agreement.

Meanwhile, ongoing talks with SATAWU have now been broken off after SAAT claims that since Wednesday, some of the 752 striking SATAWU members were involved in erratic acts of intimidation, trespassing and damage to property with one incident involving 150 SATAWU members disrupting traffic on surrounding feeder roads to South African Airways and SAAT facilities in Johannesburg.

SAA’s Group Security department claims to have "received reports of severe intimidation of passing motorists and alleged assault of members of the public and employees of the company" adding that the necessary disciplinary steps in dealing with these incidences would be taken. The carrier says that in response to the disturbances it has applied for and obtained an interdict which will strengthen its law enforcement agencies’ ability to deal with any acts of criminality associated with the picketers.

With its contingency plans in place, SAA goes on to say that the overall strike's impact has been minimal with only three flights per day since the strike's beginning having been delayed and states that negotiations with SATAWU will only resume once it "ends disobedience of picketing rules"

As of this writing, SATAWU has yet to issue an official response to SAA's claims.