Air Zimbabwe pilots press on with ‘illegal’ strike

AIR Zimbabwe pilots look set to push on with their strike into a third week after rejecting a Labour Court ruling which said their job boycott was unlawful.

The pilots grounded the state-owned airline’s planes on March 22 in a long-running pay dispute.

But the Labour Court said their strike was illegal after a judge found they had not followed accepted labour procedures before the damaging industrial action.

Air Zimbabwe’s board chairman Jonathan Kadzura told the New Ziana news agency: “They have launched an appeal and are sadly still on industrial action.”

In the last walk-out by pilots lasting 15 days in September last year, Air Zimbabwe said it lost an estimated US$5 million in potential revenue.

The struggling airline, said to run losses of up to US$3 million every month, has appealed to the government to step into the dispute but ministers say the country is broke.

“We are losing revenue everyday and our credibility,” said Kadzura.

Air Zimbabwe has been leasing some of its idle aircraft to a regional airline which is running its Johannesburg-Harare schedule. But flights from Harare to Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia have been cancelled.

Also affected is the airline’s cash-cow route of Harare-London and the long haul Harare-Malaysia-China.

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