Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEON SADIKI
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEON SADIKI

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has threatened to down tools and ground flights.

Numsa said on Wednesday that it would go on strike next Thursday if it did not mediate its differences with Comair and British Airways (BA) via the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA)‚ scheduled for Tuesday.

“If we embark on a strike it will be a national strike affecting services for these airlines at all the major airports nationally‚” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said. “The public will be hugely inconvenienced by a strike at this time of the year‚ and this will hurt [the airlines’] profits.”

Comair operates and manages BA and Kulula Airlines in SA. It has 2‚206 South African employees‚ with 373 belonging to Numsa.

Numsa is demanding a 12% salary increase; a 13th cheque; travel allowances; more shop stewards; 15% of basic salary for shift allowances; and a daily overtime allowance.

Comair made R325m in profits the latest financial year and Jim believes workers are “directly responsible for that performance ... It was entirely through their efforts that the executives and the board are experiencing huge profits”.

Jim claims the salary of the lowest-paid workers is R9‚000 and that the company is racist. “There is a significant gap between the salaries of white workers and African workers who do the same work.”

Jim also wants airlines to offer workers safe transport because airlines operate at “awkward hours”. “Our members are expected to report for duty at 4am and they knock off at 10pm when public transportation is unavailable.”

Comair has been approached for comment.