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Airport protest fizzles out

2010-06-30 19:08
Johannesburg - A new trade union faced numerous obstacles as it attempted a protest outside the OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday over pay, World Cup bonuses and the recognition of the union.

SA Aviation and Allied Workers' Union spokesperson Levy Mhlaba said the union was told it could not protest at the airport because it was a national key point.

Protesters were then moved out of the terminal building.

As the police did not know where the protesters could demonstrate, the group of more than 100 people decided to disperse. They planned to return on Thursday.

Mhlaba claimed that FIFA gave the Airports Company of SA (Acsa) and airport retailers money to pay workers a bonus for ensuring the smooth running of facilities during the World Cup.

It claimed that not all workers were receiving the bonus and wanted to know why.

However, Acsa spokesperson Solomon Makgale denied this as "not true at all".

"We haven't received any money from FIFA. They are talking about an incentive scheme Acsa put in place for its own employees at the airport."

Living wage

He said the company had decided to pay a bonus of R800 a week to people directly employed by Acsa during the World Cup and who were at work during that time.

This extended to long-term employees on a contract of longer than six months who did work related to the World Cup, but not to employees of companies contracted to do work for Acsa.

Mhlaba said the union was also unhappy that some cleaners and general staff employed by retailers in the airport were being paid R1 300, which it did not consider a living wage.

The union wanted R7 500 a month, claiming this was the amount labour brokers were paid to source staff who did the same jobs.

The union, which claimed to have 30 000 members, also wanted recognition.

Mhlaba and the union's president Prince Mabena were fired last year for doing union work during working hours.

Mhlaba said Mabena won his case at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), but Acsa did not want him back.

Mhlaba's case was still proceeding in the CCMA.

He said the union had applied for affiliation to the Congress of SA Trade Unions, but had been rejected as Cosatu believed it supported the Congress of the People.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said he did not know anything about the union and did not know about its application for affiliation.

Read more on: acsa cosatu ccma johannesburg

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