Last year ACSA embarked on a tender process with a view of appointing companies that would meet the new service level requirements that ACSA had set. It is our firm belief that the flying public has for a long time being saying to us that they would like to see changes the manner in which we operate particularly when it comes to management of baggage.
In recognition of this and as part of ongoing efforts our efforts to improve overall ramp handling in general and baggage security in particular services provided to airlines, two new baggage handling companies were appointed through the tender process. Menzies Aviation, an international ground handling company and BidAir Services, a local company within the Bidvest group of companies, were awarded the tender and will begin operations with effect from 1 March 2008.
The new service providers have committed to improve baggage delivery standards, innovative and world class service delivery practices. They will be subject to a stringent service level agreement, which includes on-time baggage delivery and reduction in baggage pilferage and monitoring and supervision of bags. They will, amongst other things, be required to perform background checks on baggage handling staff that they employ, train them appropriately and not use casual labour.
Equity chose not to be part of this process and took ACSA to court challenging the fact that their contract had lapsed. The matter was referred to a private arbitrator and a ruling in favour of ACSA was made in June 2007. Equity Aviation appealed against the ruling but lost in November 2007.
Furthermore, ACSA is extremely concerned that it appears most of Equity Aviation staff were not aware that the company had lost the legal challenge against ACSA’s decision to go out on tender. ACSA will soon be meeting with the labour representatives to brief them on this matter and the way forward.
ACSA will be going out to tender again for a third license operator in January 2008. Many international and local operators have expressed interest. We hope that Equity Aviation will seize this opportunity and participate in the process. While it is early to talk about job loses in respect of Equity Aviation employees, ACSA is of the view that the appointment of the new companies is an opportunity for many, currently working as casual labourers under poor conditions, to get full time employment. This is on provision they meet the selection criteria of the new employers. It is worth mentioning that about 75% of baggage handling personnel work on a temporary basis or through labour brokers. This impact directly on the level of service rendered and cannot be allowed to continue unabated.
In conclusion, while ACSA has not been made aware of possible industrial action with regards to this matter, we would like to assure the flying public that we have put measures in place to ensure that should the strike take place, impact thereof is minimised. We trust that Equity Aviation, in view of its contractual obligations its clients, would do everything possible to avert a strike.
Manager: Communications, Airports Company South Africa
Airports Company South Africa
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