Comair has refuted media reports that it was issued a secondary industry strike notice by the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (Numsa).
On Wednesday Reuters reported that a strike certificate had been issued to Comair as part of a secondary strike against South African Airways (SAA), citing an unnamed Numsa spokeswoman.
It added that two unions that called a strike at SAA last week had said on Sunday they would pursue a secondary strike to ensure their demands are met and warned it could shut down the entire aviation sector.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Comair this is incorrect, as it has not yet been issued with any such strike notice.
“Comair would like to clarify that there are two different processes pertaining to Numsa i.e. (1) Comair and Numsa disputes and (2) Calls by Numsa for a secondary strike,” the statement said.
Comair and Numsa disputes
Regarding the first process, the airline said Numsa has been issued two certificates of non-resolution for disputes pertaining to both Comair’s ground and cabin crew.
“Before embarking on a strike, Numsa will conduct a secret ballot of its members, and thereafter give Comair 48 hours’ notice. Comair has not yet received a notice of intention to strike,” the airline, which operates low-cost airline brand kulula.com, as well as British Airways under a licence agreement, stated.
Comair’s Joint CEO Wrenelle Stander said: “We continue to engage with all union stakeholders and are committed to reaching a ‘win-win’ outcome for all parties in involved – in a way that ensures business sustainability.”
It said contingency plans are in place should its ground- or cabin crew choose to strike.
Secondary industry strike
Numsa has called for a secondary industry strike in support of the current SAA and SAA Technical (SAAT) strike.
“Comair has not yet been served the required seven days’ notice for a secondary industry strike,” the airline stated.
“We have contingency plans in place to mitigate the impact of the SAAT strike, however, our operations are currently under pressure, and we are experiencing disruption to our flight schedule.
“We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers’ travel plans. We are doing everything possible to keep customers informed and to minimise the impact of any strike action,” Stander said.