Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Three arrested in airport strike

Three members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) involved in a national baggage handlers strike were arrested on Wednesday after they allegedly assaulted six non-striking workers of Equity Aviation Services on Monday.

Equity Aviation Services spokesperson Herman Fleischman said six staff were ”badly beaten on their way to work [at Johannesburg International airport] and had been confronted at gunpoint on Monday”.

The assailants were ”identified as striking members and Satawu shop stewards in our employ”, said Fleischman.

”We laid charges with the police on Tuesday and we heard on Wednesday that the police had arrested them for assault.”

He said police had also raided the picketing area at Johannesburg International airport on Wednesday.

”There were people with firearms in the picketing area. The police apparently raided the area this morning and confiscated several firearms.

”According to the picketing rules, when you’re in a picketing area it is against the law to have arms in your possession.”

Fleischman pointed out that the company had nothing to do with the raid as it took place on Airports Company South Africa property.

”If people are resorting to aggressive methods, we support the police in their action to ensure this doesn’t happen,” he said.

”We have now employed a private security firm to look after the interests of our working people,” he said.

Police were not available to confirm the arrests.

Fleischman also said: ”There have been people who embarked on the strike who were not Satawu members, which meant the strike was not recognised, and made it an illegal strike for them.

”We followed normal company procedure to notify them the strike was illegal and that they must come back to work within a certain time. Some returned but for the others we followed the normal disciplinary procedure.”

Fleischman did not know how many workers were dismissed.

Earlier the African National Congress urged the two parties to the strike — now in its 20th day — to return to the negotiating table.

ANC spokesperson Steyn Speed said in a statement: ”The ANC urges the parties — in the interests of the company and the workers — to return to the Council for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration [CCMA] to once again seek a resolution to the main issues of dispute.”

Satawu spokesperson Evan Abrahamse said he welcomed the ANC’s comments, but at the moment no talks were taking place.

”We are willing to talk to try to resolve it, as we have been attempting to resolve the strike. But at the moment we are dealing with a number of other issues,” he said.

He said these issues included the alleged dismissal of some striking workers by Equity Aviation Services and the arrest of three Satawu members.

The two parties were in talks at the CCMA on Friday, but ”they were a failure”, he said.

Fleischman said: ”On Friday Satawu arrived for talks with no mandate. They indicated they would consult over the weekend and come back to us on Monday. We have heard nothing as yet but we have an open door.”

Some of the matters in dispute were working hours and salary increases.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) spokesperson Patrick Craven called on members to join the picket lines at all the major airports in a demonstration of solidarity.

He said: ”Cosatu is calling for its members to show solidarity with the Satawu strikers by attending mass pickets on Saturday from 10am to noon (except Durban).”

Craven said there would also be a mass picket later in January at Equity Aviation Services’ head office in Bedfordview.

The Solidarity union had also come out in support of Satawu and asked its members to stop performing the duties of Satawu’s striking members.

Spokesperson Dirk Hermann said: ”Solidarity represents approximately 40% of the supervisors who currently handle passengers’ baggage while Satawu members are on strike.

”The strike is causing widespread disruption in baggage handling at the Johannesburg and Cape Town airports. Should Solidarity members stop performing the duties of the striking workers, more disruption will be caused to the baggage systems.”

Fleischman said: ”Solidarity have not consulted with us at all and we do not recognise them as a union. If they decide to down tools and believe they have support to down tools, it will be illegal.” — Sapa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Gillian Jones
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Mabuza’s Russian jaunts and the slippery consequences of medical tourism

For more than five years the deputy president has remained steadfast in his right to travel abroad to receive medical treatment

More top stories

The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right

An examination of the language the party uses shows that it is echoing right-wing voices the world over in its insistence that those who point out its racism are, in fact, the real racists

South Africa’s mothballed ‘supermall-ification’ sets strip malls up for success

Analysts agree that the country has enough malls and that, post-Covid, the convenience of local centres lure customers

Ugandan teachers turn to coffin-making after schools close

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the country’s schools closing and teachers being left without jobs

Mabuza’s Russian jaunts and the slippery consequences of medical tourism

For more than five years the deputy president has remained steadfast in his right to travel abroad to receive medical treatment
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×