Picture: SAA
Picture: SAA

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) will not embark on a strike at Air Chefs — at least for now — after a court interdict in Johannesburg on Monday.

The labour court granted an interim interdict to Air Chefs, a catering subsidiary of national carrier SAA, and called on Numsa to return to court on November 27 to argue why the order should not be made permanent.

“We are studying the judgment with the hope that when we return to court in November we will be able to reverse this decision so that our members will be able to exercise their right to strike,” said Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

The union had planned to down tools at the company over “anniversary bonuses”, which it said the management “unilaterally” removed.

“The employees of Air Chefs have enjoyed both [the] annual bonus and the anniversary bonus for the last 10 years, it forms part of the benefits of working for the company. The employer had no right to unilaterally change these conditions without consultation,” said Hlubi-Majola.

“We deadlocked with the employer in April and were granted a certificate of nonresolution. Air Chefs cannot justify applying for an urgent interdict to block the strike when they have had 10 months to engage us to resolve this dispute amicably.”

The company argued that it believed the annual bonus and anniversary bonus was “one and the same thing”.

“We are arguing that it’s not. An anniversary bonus is money that gets paid to you on the date you started working for the company,” said Hlubi-Majola.

Another reason Air Chefs applied for the interdict is because it said the anniversary bonus was covered in the main agreement signed in 2018.

The union had warned there would be no food or catering services on several airlines and in airport lounges should the strike go ahead. The industrial action was set to affect airlines in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za