Comair aircraft kulula.com and British Airways (Pic supplied: Meropa Communications)

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said on Tuesday that it has served local airline, Comair, with 48-hour notice to strike.

If it goes ahead, the strike will commence on the Thursday, the day before the Easter weekend begins and will affect all Comair flights nationally. Comair operates kulula.com and all British Airways fights in South Africa.

In December, NUMSA went on strike demanding a salary hike of 12 percent, a guaranteed 13th cheque, travelling allowance, 15 percent of basic salary as a shift allowance, as well as a daily overtime allowance.   

The union, whose members frequently downs tools at the airline, said this was over a dispute related to wage disparities at the airline following attempts to resolve the issue with Comair since late last year. 

The union wants the employer to immediately bridge the gap between all workers with a wage gap of less than R1,000, do so within 12 months on workers compensation with a wage gap of between R1,000 to R2,000, and withing three years on workers with a gap of more than R5,000.

When the union and the employer resolved the wage strike last year, one of the decisions taken was that a working committee made up of NUMSA members and Comair management would attempt to resolve this issue amicably.

Irvin Jim, NUMSA general secretary, said in a statement that they cannot allow a situation where the principle of equal pay for work of equal value was violated in the workplace.

Jim said they made a proposal to management that they need to agree on a time frame for how they will correct these wage discrepancies. 

"We proposed that management must, over time, increase wages of those who are affected by the gap, so there can be uniformity in their salaries, because they are doing the same kind of work. We have had several meetings with the employer this year where these proposal were made by us," Jim said.

"The management of Comair rejected this. Instead, they have made the outrageous proposal that the high earners should be denied wage increases until the salaries of other workers catch up. This is completely unacceptable."

Comair's executive of airline division, Wrenelle Stander, was not immediately available for comment.  

Jim said they were calling on Comair management to engage meaningfully with their demands in order to avoid a strike.

- African News Agency (ANA)