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3 SAA minority unions win right to take part in retrenchment talks

Satawu, Solidarity, and AUSA - which represent workers only in some divisions at SAA - were not consulted about the planned restructuring that could result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

FILE: Numsa and South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) members picket at the SAA Airways Park in Kempton Park on 15 November 2019. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Trade unions that are not recognised at South African Airways (SAA) on Wednesday clinched a major victory at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which allowed them to take part in retrenchment talks.

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Solidarity, and the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA) - which represent workers only in some divisions at SAA - were not consulted about the planned restructuring that could result in the loss of hundreds of jobs.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Cabin Crew Association have been on strike for six days now over wages and those possible retrenchments.

Satawu, Solidarity, and AUSA, which are in a coalition at SAA Technical, lodged a dispute at the CCMA two weeks ago after the national carrier failed to issue them notice over the looming retrenchments.

Consultative talks between SAA and trade unions representing some of its over 5,000 workers were scheduled for Monday.

Satawu spokesperson Zanele Sabela said: “We complained bitterly when SAA came out to the media to say it was planning to retrench 944 workers because they hadn’t consulted us.”

The CCMA found that the scope of Section 189 consultations should also include non-organised workers.

CCMA MEDIATION PROCESS

Meanwhile, a mediation process facilitated by the CCMA is underway on Wednesday afternoon at SAA.

The latest talks between management and unions aimed at ending the strike collapsed on Tuesday night and employees were still demanding an 8% wage hike and a stop to retrenchment plans.

Unions were putting more pressure on the airline with Numsa serving a secondary strike notice on catering company Air Chefs.

Numsa’s spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said: “We’ve made it very clear to management at SAA and the CCMA that the opener for mediations is 6.5%. So, if they are coming to us with 5.9%, we will not take part in the negotiations.”

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