Acsa soothes fears of SAA chaos

SAA has grounded all flights as adamant unions dig their heels in for a long haul.
SAA has grounded all flights as adamant unions dig their heels in for a long haul.
Image: File/Alon Skuy

South African Airways employees are set to down tools today, and East Londoners are worried that mayhem may result.

But Airports Company of SA (Acsa) corporate affairs senior manager Senzeni Ndebele has sought to allay fears that the planned wage strike will cause chaos.

Ndebele said SAA was not anticipating any disruptions as the airline had done enough  to communicate with its customers.

The airline has cancelled all flights in the wake of the looming strike.

Ndebele said: “This is an SAA strike, not an Acsa strike. I can’t say what needs to be done or not to be done. But our staff at the airport will be there to guide the passengers and send them through to the SAA counter.”

The cancellation of flights follows an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association and the National Union of Metalworkers of SA that their members would embark on industrial action from Friday morning.

“We are putting our customers first and regret the inevitable inconvenience that these cancellations may cause our customers. However, by acting proactively, SAA can certainly help customers find alternatives,” said SAA spokesperson, Tlali Tlali.

On Thursday, Comair announced it had put contingency plans in place.

“Comair will continue its operations, notwithstanding the threatened industrial action at South African Airways Technical," the airline said in a statement on Thursday.

There were unconfirmed reports that SAA was put putting a counter offer on the table. But attempts to get clarity regarding the planned strike and negotiations were unsuccessful at the time of going to print.

Tlali asked the Dispatch to send him questions, but he had not responded to them by print deadline.

Earlier this week, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the government “must stimulate the economy to avoid looming job cuts”.

Jim said SOEs were faced with a “rampant right-wing capitalist agenda to auction and attack all hard-won gains of workers” when it came to National Treasury and the department of public enterprises.

“We believe SAA must be funded by the state,” he said.

“We’re sick and tired of the fiasco of investment conferences, but at the end of the day we see no job creation. What we see is a permanent attack on hard-won gains of workers. The best way to turn around this economy is for workers to demand that the state must intervene in the economy.

“We're grounding that airline on Friday. That airline must not move. This strike will be an indefinite strike until these people come to the table. As we resume the strike, we will be giving them another notice for a secondary strike. If they think we are playing, they must actually watch what is coming.”