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SAA's 2-day 2008 strike

Like milk and wine, airlines and strikes are not a good mix - those who lived through the July 2005 SAA strike will attest to the business opportunities lost, the long-planned family holidays abandoned, the weddings missed and the endless time spent waiting at airports. For passengers it was therefore really good news that SAA's Dec 2008 strike only lasted two days.

Who was striking

The SAA Voyager and call centre staff were striking, making it difficult to make SAA reservations or change reservations (or get Voyager upgrades). However, most reservations are made online, so the strike did not cost SAA too much financially.

Why were the call centre staff striking?

SAA's call centre staff were protesting unilateral changes which were being made to their employment contracts, including SAA's outsourcing to Didata (Dimension Data) of the Voyager and Reservations call centres (this outsourcing was planned to start on 1 Dec 2008), which would have resulted in some 200 staff being transferred to Didata (and roster changes being used as punishment for sick leave, travel benefits in the process, post-retirement benefits). The workers were also unhappy about the retention bonuses which are being paid to SAA management.

How did the strike end?

SAA agreed with Satawu to not go ahead with the outsourcing of the Voyager call centre to Dimension Data.


30 Nov 2008

SAA & Satawu negotiate in the morning without reaching agreement. In the evening SAA agree not to outsource the Voyager call centre to Dimension Data, the agreement is signed in the evening and Satawu ends the strike.

29 Nov 2008

The strike started on Saturday the 29th November, when some SAA workers picketed near Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport's Airways Park. SAA claims the number of strikers was under 50 (on both Saturday and Sunday), whilst Satawu claimed there were around 80 strikers on the Saturday and a hundred on the Sunday.

28 Nov 2008

SAA's application for an interdict is dismissed by the Johannesburg Labour Court.

26 Nov 2008

The CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) provides Satawu (the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union) with a certificate, enabling 250 of their members from SAA's Voyager and reservations call centres to strike. At the CCMA hearing "SAA was indeed present, but for logistical reasons the airline did not have an opportunity to put its case," says Bhabhalazi Bulunga. [Ed: "Logistical reasons" sounds like management incompetence to us].

Horrors of a December strike

If you cant remember SAA's 2005 strike, perhaps you can remember Nationwide being grounded at the end of last year (ironically also from the 30th of November). This incident directly led to Nationwide going bankrupt in 2009. It's absolutely amazing that SAA's call centre chose December to strike - let's hope we don't see strikes in 2010 in mission critical areas.

SAA - South African Airways plane

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Category : South African Airways

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