Strike fever grips SA

SA is bracing for a wave of strike action with several key industries expected to come to a halt.

Satawu members demand a salary increase in Parktown on 7 May 2013. Picture: Lesego Ngobeni/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) have begun striking at OR Tambo International Airport this morning.

The small groups of people are wearing Satawu t-shirts and have gathered near the main terminal.

The crowd is expected to get bigger as the strike progresses.

But the impact of the work stoppage is not yet reflected in South African Airways' flight schedule.

The union's leadership is also expected to address striking workers later this morning.

Meanwhile, police are maintaining a strong presence and keeping the strikers out of the terminal.

The union called the strike among South African Airways (SAA) technical staff after wage talks deadlocked last week.

It's understood other smaller airlines might also be affected.

The national carrier at the weekend confirmed it received a strike notice from the union, but said it has put in contingency plans in place to avoid service disruptions.

Satawu is demanding a 6.5 percent increase.

SAA's Tlali Tlali has declined to comment on what the airline is offering its employees.

"We wouldn't want the integrity of the processes that we embark on to be tainted by the fact that we negotiate on wrong or inappropriate platforms."

It's unclear to what extent all domestic and international flights will be affected if the strike continues.

Satawu represents 70 percent of SAA ground and cabin crew.

Tlali called on the union to be reasonable with its wage demands, given the airline's current financial status.

"In light of the prevailing global economic conditions that are affecting all the airlines, we are of the view that the offer we are placing on the table in a reasonable one. We're of the view that employees will make the right decision, appreciate our situation and report for duty."

SAA says its confident the strike will have minimum impact on their flights .

NUM

At the same time members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the construction sector say they will embark on a nationwide strike over wages today.

The union claims it's also protesting against 15 construction companies found guilty by the Competition Commission Tribunal of bid-rigging and anti-competitive behaviour involving projects worth R47 billion in the run-up to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Seshoka says union members want employers to share the profits.

"The companies that the strike action is going to be against are the companies that have stolen so much money from us through collusion. Clearly, we want them to share with the poor workers in the industry."

The NUM also says it will resume wage talks in the coal and gold sectors today to try resolve an impasse there.

The union is demanding a 15 percent wage increase, which will close the gap between mine bosses and workers.

It has threatened to arrange a strike that will cripple the economy.

But Seshoka says this will be the last resort.

"What we want to do is close the gap. We always said that strike action is a last resort for us and that remains."

Seshoka also warned another strike could also follow at Eskom.

"They took the issue of dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) before we even declared such a dispute. But they have given us a small increase of 5.6 percent, which they say is the final offer.

NUMSA

About 30,000 automotive sector workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) are expected to announce whether their week-long strike will be called off today.

This after employers upped their wage offer.