Workers protest at OR Tambo airport


Workers are protesting outside the Airports Company of SA-owned OR Tambo International Airport east of Johannesburg. They are demonstrating against low wages, bosses’ bonusses and labour broking.

Some 150 to 180 employees affiliated to South African Aviation and Allied Workers Union (SAAAU) stared their protest at the terminal building this morning but were then removed from the premises by police under the National Key Points Act. The Times newspaper reports there had not been any clashes with police. “It’s very orderly, it has had no impact whatsoever on normal airport operations,” said ACSA spokesman Solomon Makgale.

Eyewitness News adds police are closely monitoring the protesters employed in the cleaning, catering, airline and retail sectors of the airport. The radio news service adds they were at noon singing and blowing vuvuzelas alongside one of the roads leading to the airport.

It added the workers were picketing over World Cup bonuses and organisational rights. Some workers were carrying placards demanding a living wage of R7500 and calling for an end to labour brokers. The admitted SAAAU was not an ACSA recognised union but called on the company and government to address its members’ issues. They also accused their employers of pocketing World Cup bonuses of R3000 for every worker, Eyewitness News reports.

ACSA yesterday said it had no indication that thousands of its workers would down tools at airports across the country today. SAAAU announced that more than 30 000 workers would go on strike. ACSA said it only recognised the National Education, Health And Allied Workers Union. Mogale added ACSA had “obtained an interdict against this union that has been formed and we informed all our staff that if they participate in the strike, it would be unprotected.”

Today’s strike was “very orderly” and “has had no impact whatsoever on normal airport operations,” said Makgale.

The airports operator said on Saturday winter business has been booming as a result of the World Cup. Cape Town International Airport has experienced a 13 percent increase in overall passenger traffic compared to the same period last year. The number of international passengers moving through has also seen an upswing of 44 percent.

ACSA’s Deidre Hendricks said the 24-hour period before and after a match are the busiest.
“Largely, we’ve seen international visitors following their team. So as different teams play, we’ve noted that the day of the game is when fans come through the airport,” she said.