UPDATE: Court interdict issued for Air Chefs in bonus bun fight

2019-10-06 14:23
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Air Chefs, a catering subsidiary of South African Airways (SAA), has successfully interdicted industrial action by labour union NUMSA. 

SAA issued a statement confirming the interdict was granted by the labour court on Monday afternoon.

"In addition to the interdict, Air Chefs management has taken steps to activate contingency plans to ensure minimal or no impact on all operations and to Air Chefs customers including the airlines it serves, should an unprotected industrial action take place."

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s called the strike due to the "withdrawal of anniversary bonuses, which have not been paid since the start of 2019", according to a statement they issued.   

Air Chefs confirmed in its statement saying," The bonus payment is regulated by the Catering and Allied Bargaining Council Collective agreement and is therefore not a matter of mutual interest that NUMSA may strike over. Air Chefs’ position is that it is not in breach of the collective agreement relating to bonus payments but is in strict compliance thereto. Any dispute NUMSA may have on this matter must be adjudicated at the Bargaining Council through conciliation and arbitration." 

With contingency plans in place, no operational disruptions have been reported on Monday.

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SA Airlink not expecting to be impacted by Air Chefs strike

SA Airlink has confirmed it does not expect to be impacted by the possible Air Chefs strike, currently interdicted until judgement at 14:00pm on Monday.

SA Airlink was listed as one of six airlines affected by the possible strike of the catering company, however spokesperson Karin Murray confirmed, "Airlink only receives special meals such as Halaal and Kosher meals from Air Chefs."

"The airline will can make alternative arrangements to ensure that our customers requesting special meal types such as  Halaal and Kosher  meals will not be affected by the strike.  The percentage of these special meal types on Airlink flights is very small. "

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South African Airways, one of six airlines to be affected by a possible strike by catering company Air Chefs, says it has contingency plans in place to ensure that its passengers would not have to pack a lunchbox for flights.

SAA Spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed the strike was 'interdicted until judgment around 14:00 on Monday".

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa’s plans to strike on Monday, due to the withdrawal of anniversary bonuses, which have not been paid since the start of 2019.  

 SAA: Air Chefs handling strike, passengers need not bring own lunch

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Passengers to pack their own 'vlugkos' as Air Chefs staff set to strike 

South Africans are all too familiar with the concept of padkos, but now as Air Chefs is set to go on strike those planning on flying on Monday will need to pack their own 'vlugkos'.

In fact they're being told to pack a 'skhaftin', another slang term for 'lunch box' as three of the country's main airports are set to be affected by the catering company strike.

The strike will affect certain airlines at OR Tambo International Airport in Gauteng, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban. 

"Our members will be embarking on strike action from Monday the 07th October 2019 from 06:00. We advise that if you intend to fly on certain airlines tomorrow please pack a skhaftin (lunch box) because there will no food or catering on the flight," Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) advise in a statement on Sunday as they headed to the Labour Court to prevent an interdicting on the strike.

The following airlines are expected to be affected include: 

1. SAA

2. SA Express 

3. SA Airlink

4. Mango Airline

5. Air Mauritius

6. SWISS Airlines

READ: Plane Food 101: What you need to know when travelling with food allergies or preferences

SAA Lounges and Canteens, as well as SAAT Canteens will also be impacted. The strike is said to be due to the withdrawal of anniversary bonuses, which have not been paid since the start of 2019. 

Since serving the company with a notice to strike Air Chefs has applied for an urgent interdict in an attempt to block the strike. 

In the statement Numsa condemned the attempt to silence staff, calling on Air Chefs to "engage with staff and pay this part of their benefit of employment". 

*Compiled by Selene Brophy

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