The Labour Court on Thursday temporarily interdicted the strike by workers affiliated to Numsa at airline Comair Limited.

JOHANNESBURG - The Labour Court on Thursday temporarily interdicted the strike by workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at airline Comair Limited, but reserved judgement in the matter. 

Comair welcomed the court ruling which requires striking NUMSA ground staff to return to work. NUMSA's strike began at 1 pm on Thursday. 

The airline, which operates as a low-cost carrier under its own kulula.com brand as well as operating domestic routes as a British Airways franchisee, had approached the Labour Court after NUMSA served it with a 48-hour notice to strike on Tuesday over a wage dispute.

The dispute relates to salary anomalies for 21 employees hired prior to 2009 who are being paid higher than the agreed salary scale. NUMSA represents just over 50 percent of Comair's 700 airport ground staff out of a total staff complement of 2,200.

Wrenelle Stander, Comair's executive director for airline division, said the company had sought an interdict to ensure its customers reached their destinations over Easter.

"We value our employees and respect their right to strike but would always prefer to reach a mutually acceptable solution. We will continue to engage the union," Stander said.

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Comair had put comprehensive contingency plans in place in case the strike went ahead. These included employees from around the business volunteering to assist at airports, proactively contacting customers to facilitate check-in and providing additional fast-bag-drop counters.

Stander said that although the strike cannot go ahead, the Easter weekend was always a busy time to travel.

"As always over a holiday weekend we'd encourage customers to check-in online or at the airport kiosks and use the dedicated fast-bag drops," he said. 

NUMSA spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola was not immediately available for comment over the phone. 

- African News Agency (ANA)