Unions representing workers at struggling national carrier South African Airways (SAA) have decided to go ahead with a strike today after failed last-minute talks with management yesterday.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) announced they had failed to reach an agreement with SAA and SAA Technical over their demands for bigger wage increases.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said management had offered a 5.9% increase, while the unions’ demand was 8%.
She said the unions would not budge and that “this will be an indefinite [strike] until management gives into our demands!”
The strike is not only about getting a wage increase, but about the struggling airline’s procurement spend. That was detrimental to its balance sheet and if management was genuine about dealing with its financial woes, it would deal with the issue of insourcing.
But Hlubi-Majola said management “still wants to play games” and that workers “can’t wait any more”.
She then asked why workers were in a position to lose their jobs for the failures of its executive management, and why parliament’s standing committee on public accounts had not fired the board instead.
Sacca president Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said management had revealed the airline would be losing R50 million for every day of the strike, but the wage increases would cost them two working days a year (R100 million).
“We will be available the entire evening for more talks, otherwise we will meet [outside the gates of SAA Airways Park at OR Tambo Airport] at 4am for our picket,” Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said.
The South African Airways Pilots’ Association received an increase of 5.9% earlier this year.
SAA has cancelled all its domestic, regional and international flights today and tomorrow. This will affect only SAA-operated flights.
“All flights operated by partner airlines, including SA Express, Mango, SA Airlink and all codeshare partners will not be affected,” the airline said in a statement.