File. British Airways operated by Comair. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency (ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will meet the management team of Comair Limited on Thursday to try to avert a looming strike over a wage increase dispute.

The union is 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. Numsa also wants to increase the number of shop stewards at the airline. 

But the airline has not given in to the demand for a travel allowance, saying this was still being negotiated. This is a major sore point for Numsa members. 

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said unreliable transportation was a huge problem. 

"Workers’ shifts begin in the early hours of the morning and end very late at night. There is no reliable transportation and this puts their lives at risk," Hlubi-Majola said.

"There is a second dispute in relation to wage discrepancy which is also contributing to the problem. British Airways/Comair is a racist company which refuses to pay workers equal pay for work of equal value. There is a significant gap between the salaries of white workers and African workers who do the same work."

Last week, Numsa declared its intention to serve notice this week for a strike at Comair, which operates British Airways and Kulula in South Africa.

However, on Wednesday, the union which represents 52 percent of airport staff compliment of Comair, said it would participate in a mediation process, as per Section 150 of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration dispute resolution

Numsa urged the airline to engage "meaningfully" with its demands. 

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

Last week Standler told the African News Agency (ANA) that the proposed shift-pattern change was inefficient, costly and detrimental to employees as it would result in a loss in individual income.

Stander also said the salary discrepancies that Numsa was complaining about related to a handful of employees which the firm could justify and that measures were in place to address these anomalies.

Comair said it has since put contingency plans in place to minimise any disruptions in the unlikely event of a strike and will keep these plans in place until it is confident the situation is resolved.

- African News Agency (ANA)