Mon, 30 Mar 2020

The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) in Gauteng plans to march on privately-owned regional airline Airlink at OR Tambo International Airport on Friday to protest against what it claims to be the "victimisation" of its members.

Airlink, on the other hand, regards these allegations as "preposterous".

One of the issues Satawu has with the airline relates to recent salary negotiations. According to the union, workers were due for a pay rise in April 2019, but only received it in January this year.

In mid-January the union also proposed amendments to the cabin crew recognition agreement with the aim of extending the same rights to the ground/ramp union members. According to the union, the airline did not agree to this.

Satawu claims the airline "victimised" some of its members by accusing them of intimidation "for merely chatting on a WhatsApp group started for the purposes of discussing union matters". Seven union members were suspended at the end of January and later dismissed, having been accused of "insolence".

Satawu says it has referred the case to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The union says it is also challenging Airlink's refusal to extend organisational rights at the CCMA.

Furthermore, the union has issues with the involvement of labour consultant LabourNet at Airlink.

READ | Airlink continues with abandoned SAA routes, readies for court action

Satawu intends to hand over a memorandum to the Airlink management on Friday and has also invited South African Airways (SAA) - which is currently in business rescue - to receive a memorandum setting out the union's grievances with Airlink.

"It is our view that SAA, as a state-owned entity that has a commercial contract with Airlink, should not condone these practices and, if needs be, we will call on government to review such contract," Satawu said in a statement.

Airlink told Fin24 on Thursday evening that it denies what it regards as Satawu's "preposterous allegations".

"As a responsible South African-based airline, totally committed to operational safety and service delivery excellence in the interests of satisfying our customers, we cannot tolerate any form of indiscipline, especially not gross insubordination," the airline said.

"Airlink has at all times been proactive in every instance of industrial relations conflict resolution and has always been fully compliant with all applicable labour laws and regulations."

According to Airlink, Satawu has already failed at both the CCMA and the Labour Court with their "baseless allegations".

While acknowledging the union's right to undertake the intended march on Friday, Airlink expressed the wish that it would remain peaceful and without intimidation of Airlink employees.

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