Meal allowance dispute leads to SAA cabin crew strike

SAA cabin crew members have embarked on a strike
Picture: Sunday Times

South African Airways (SAA) cabin crew members have embarked on a strike and begun picketing outside the airline’s offices at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.

The striking workers want the airline to address international food allowances‚ which they say have not been changed in six years.

SA Cabin Crew Association deputy president Christopher Shabangu said cabin staff have numerous grievances‚ but had chosen to highlight the allowance issue first.

“SAA has not been able to increase the meal allowance for the past six years. It has been the same since 2011. We have requested that management adjust this allowance to $170 (R2 223) a day‚” he said.

Cabin crew are currently getting a $131 (R1 711) international meal allowance‚ the association said.

Shabangu said the union had tried to have this issue addressed “for the past few years” but got nowhere.

“We now have a situation where the crew can’t handle this. The neglect has been going on for many years‚” he said.

Shabangu said the association represents 1 400 of the 1 700 SAA cabin crew members.

In a statement released Wednesday night‚ SAA advised passengers to keep track of flight information on social media platforms and on the airline’s website.

“The airline will ensure that all changes are published timeously and day of travel support will be provided to customers who may experience flight delays or cancellations that may occur during this period‚” SAA said.

“The airline is doing everything possible to find common ground and/or a settlement on matters that are currently under discussion. Negotiations are ongoing and the company remains optimistic that the strike action could be averted.”

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