PROTEST: Members of the new National Transport Movement trade union outside South African Airways' offices at OR Tambo International Airport last week. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
PROTEST: Members of the new National Transport Movement trade union outside South African Airways' offices at OR Tambo International Airport last week. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE strike by the National Transport Movement (NTM) at South African Airways (SAA) was likely to continue for a 12th day on Tuesday as the union verified about 260 new membership forms with the assistance of a commissioner from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

The strike comes after the NTM failed to be recognised as a union at the airline despite the CCMA recommending last year that SAA recognise the union. The NTM was formed the middle of last year as a breakaway of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions.

"The strike is continuing while the verification is going on," Liver Mngomezulu, the deputy secretary-general of the NTM, said on Monday.

SAA on Monday maintained that the stayaway was not affecting operations.

Mr Mngomezulu rejected SAA’s claims that the strike had not hurt the airline. "On Friday they were begging us to withdraw the strike because it is affecting their operations, and we said to them that ‘in the media you are saying something else’. They said to us, ‘Forget about what you read in the media.’"

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said support for the strike was "fizzling out" with about 20 people on strike. "Management has never begged NTM to call off the strike…. If anything, we engaged with them with good intentions aimed at finding a common ground. That is hardly an act of begging," he said.

A second 11-day strike by the NTM at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), which operates the commuter train service Metrorail, continued on Monday, also over recognition, Mr Mngomezulu said.

Prasa spokesman Moffet Mofokeng said the strike was not national and attendance was low, with only 55 people not attending work.

The NTM did not meet the threshold required for recognition at the rail agency which employs about 15,000 people, Mr Mofokeng said.

Prasa won an order from the labour court on Saturday to interdict the NTM’s members from barricading Prasa’s premises and ordered it not to destroy Prasa property or intimidate nonstriking employees, Mr Mofokeng said.

Mr Mngomezulu said NTM members had been "harassed and persecuted by Prasa protection services and we have about four members who have been assaulted". They have opened a criminal case.