Numsa conceded defeat after its strike at Comair was interdicted, but said that the war was not over. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency ( ANA ).

Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Thursday conceded defeat after its strike at Comair was interdicted, but said that the war was not over. 

This comes after the Labour Court in Johannesburg issued a temporary interdict against the strike by Numsa members at Comair, and ordered them to return to work immediately. 

Numsa had served Comair with notice to begin the strike on Thursday at 1pm across all airports which would have caused major disruptions to the airline's operations heading into the busy Easter weekend.

The dispute between the workers union and the airline relates to salary anomalies for at least 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.

Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, Numsa's national spokesperson, conceded that their members will now have to return to work but said that the matter was not over.

"We need to make it clear that just because the strike has been interdicted, it doesn't mean that this matter is over. The dispute remains unresolved. This is a long-standing issue created by the management team at Comair who have frankly failed to show leadership and show vision in trying to deal with this issue," Hlubi-Majola said. 

"We are saying to management we repeat the call that they need to engage with us meaningfully on how we resolve this problem they created. They are the ones who went and paid workers unjustifiable higher incomes which created a situation where 23 workers now are earning much higher wages than they should be earning according to the salary scale."

Hlubi-Majola said that Numsa would be meeting with Comair later on Thursday as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has asked for intervention in the dispute. 

Wrenelle Stander, Comair's executive director for airline division at the airline had put comprehensive contingency plans in place in case the strike had gone 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.

"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," Stander said.

African News Agency (ANA)