The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) says it is business as usual a its offices thanks to the contingency plans put in place in preparation a strike by some 100 South African Transport & Allied Workers’ Union employees.
The workers went on strike in support of higher salaries on Friday afternoon. At the time, SACAA said SATAWU represented about 186 employees. SACAA says it has since Friday “been inundated with queries from SATAWU registered staff members regarding their wish to resign from the union.”
The airspace regulator says this “is a clear sign that some members feel that they were mislead or bullied into supporting an undesirable strike action. This development could also explain why SATAWU leadership has been misleading the public and media on facts that led to an impasse during the wage negotiations process as well as the subsequent strike action.”
SACAA, in a statement, says it “can confirm that all the services offered by the SACAA are being performed as usual. In addition, examinations were conducted on the SACAA Midrand premises today as per the norm.” There are indications currently that management and the union will meet today “to try and find ways of resolving the dispute,” SACAA avers.
The authority also accused SATAWU of misleading the media and the public, by, for example claiming “hundreds of striking employees were causing traffic chaos outside the SACAA’s Waterfall Office Park in Midrand”. SACAA says there was no interference by picketers with traffic movement within or outside the office park.
“As per the picketing rules that were agreed upon by both management and labour over the weekend, picketing is confined to 20 picketers in the parking lot of the main building of the SACAA whilst the rest of the picketers are at the parking lot of the secondary building situated a hundred meters away from the main one. However, there was temporary disregard of picketing rules by the 20 picketers who sang and blew vuvuzelas in an attempt to disturb students writing exams. Management intervened and the situation returned to normal.”
Another misleading claim is inflated numbers, SACAA says. “Some media reports claimed that 12 000 SACAA employees would take to the streets. The truth is that the SACAA has a total staff complement of 433 employees of which only 186 are eligible to strike. The majority of the 186 employees on strike are support staff. After the SACAA pointed out this deliberate attempt to misinform the public, the union changed its tune and reverted to claiming that 200 employees are participating in the strike.”
SACAA continues “SATAWU has gone out of its way to falsely claim that the SACAA will not be able to conduct investigations in case of aircraft accidents. The SACAA wishes to clarify that it has enough capacity to deal with an accident should there be a need. In addition, the SACAA has had for some time and as part of its support structure, a team of pro-tem investigators, countrywide, who are specialists that have been vetted and subsequently appointed to assist following an aircraft accident.
“Most critically, the union is misinforming the public and possibly its members by falsely alleging that management has linked the 9% increase on offer, to SATAWU members giving up their right to negotiate salary increases in future. The SACAA would like to state categorically that this is not and never has been management’s position. Annual wage negotiations will still take place to determine what the average increase of employees will be. The proposed performance increase will afford those employees who perform well, a higher than average increase. Moreover, the SACAA has in place a Performance Management System which is used to determine incentive bonuses to those employees who perform well during a financial year,” SACAA says.
“The SACAA further wishes to reiterate that in terms of the negotiations, management had initially offered a 7% salary increase with no conditions attached to the increase, whilst labour demanded a 14% increase across the board. At the time of the deadlock, management was offering a 9% salary increase across the board for bargaining unit employees, coupled with the following conditions:
· that salary increments for employees within the category C4 and above on the Patterson grading system be based on performance as from the fiscal year 2011/2012; and
· employees within the categories A1 to C3 retain their status quo in the SACAA collective bargaining forum.
“SATAWU rejected the proposal, which resulted in both parties reverting to their previous position, i.e. 7% by management and fourteen percent (14%) by SATAWU. As a result, the two parties reached a stalemate and on Friday met at the CCMA to seek conciliation in order to reach a settlement on the impasse.
“It is worth noting that management tabled the discussion concerning performance based increments for the bargaining unit, during the wage negotiations of 2009/2010. Following these discussions, management and SATAWU agreed to refer the matter to the general session of the bargaining forum.
“On August 5, 2009, management tabled the matter of performance based increments in the general session of the SACAA bargaining forum for debate. Subsequent to these discussions, management arranged a workshop for SATAWU leadership on performance based increments, which was held on the January 22, 2010 and was well attended. Management further arranged workshops for all employees belonging to the SACAA bargaining forum to be taken through the performance based salary increment process. Workshops were held in March.
“During the course of the wage negotiations for the fiscal year 2010/2011, when management tabled the performance based increment concept, SATAWU again demanded that it should not form part of the negotiations and instead be referred to the general session of the bargaining forum which can be viewed as a delaying tactic,” SACAA continues in its statement.