SAA cancels flights due to union strike over wages

Flights by subsidiaries Mango, SA Express and SA Air Link reportedly not to be affected.
Image: Shutterstock

South African Airways (SAA) has cancelled flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday because of a pending strike by a majority of employees but said on Thursday it hoped its revised wage offer would avert the walkout at the state-run carrier.

SAA has failed to turn a profit since 2011 while relying on state bailouts to fund a growing financing gap.

The airline is also without a permanent chief executive and has yet to file annual results for the two most recent financial years because of concerns about its viability as a business.

Unions representing about 3,000 of its 5,000-member workforce said on Wednesday that cabin crew and other workers would strike over wages and plans to the cut more than 900 jobs.

The carrier said on Wednesday it might never recover if the strike went ahead.

Unions are demanding an immediate 8% increase, and on Thursday SAA after late-night negotiations said it would offer a 5.9% raise from April when it hopes to have secured the necessary funding.

“The increase is not immediately available. We can only implement it once we have secured funding,” SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said during a live interview on television news channel eNCA.

“We have a meeting scheduled for today at 2 o’clock and we are hopeful we will be able to resolve the issue … It will include all the unions … and if the meeting yields positive results we will then activate some contingency plans that will allow us to reinstate flights,” said Tlali.

Only flights directly operated by SAA would be affected. Flights by subsidiaries Mango, SA Express and SA Air Link, as well as those of private operators, would not be affected, SAA said.

The airline said it expected unions to respond at an emergency meeting at 1200 GMT.

Unions said the strike would begin at 4am on Friday and go on indefinitely. They are calling on SAA’s check-in, ticket sales, head office, technical staff and ground staff to take part.

Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, president of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) that is leading the strike with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), said the offer was unacceptable.

“They really need to get serious, 5.9% simply won’t cut it. It’s just over 1% more than we are asking for and we think its attainable, so last night we asked SAA (negotiators) to go and get a fresh mandate from management,” said Nsibanyoni-Mugambi.

Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union was still consulting its members on whether to accept or reject the revised wage offer.

SAA airline flies around 6.8 million passengers annually to six continents with routes to New York, London and Hong Kong among its eight international offerings.

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Close it down, taxpayer money saved. Job done.

Agreed.

I don’t care who shutts it.

The “shareholder” does not want to so if labour wants to do it go for it.

Please just keep it shutt. Forever.

Where does this leave the banks and other funders?

Shutting the airline down will cause those on the gravy train to look elsewhere. SAA will be scrutinised by its staff and everyone else to ensure those involved in corruption will be shut out. So far, neither the government, SAA, the NPA, and the CEO and board of SAA, not one of them have laid charges against any of those who were involved in state capture and those who used SAA as a feeding trough and those who have had their light fingers pilfer the money and assets of what until the mid 1990’s was a great and profitable SOE. So one wonders just how many are protecting themselves and others from prosecution. So, the government, SAA, the NPA, and the CEO and board of SAA now have to deal with an angry crew and angry staff who have had enough of the excuses offered. For the record, I support the crew in their endeavours to get the airline on course. Passengers should now treat SAA as an insecure form of air travel as the staff could go on strike at any time. Book and fly with other airlines until this dispute is resolved.

Black Friday’s coming – sell it at a bargain…

Not only the striking workers but also the management that have allowed SAA to get to its current dysfunctional state, must get the chop. More and more S.Africans are getting utterly sick and tired of seeing corrupt ANC cadres massively enriching their pockets at the expense of the poor. (Dudu, are you listening?) SAA is horribly bankrupt, Kulula is not. The difference? One airline run by incompetent crooks, the other by proper businessmen. It’s time common sense – and not idiotic Socialistic thinking – prevailed in our country.

I will bet my bottom dollar that the 8% increase plus a little Christmas present ala Eskom 2018 will be given by midnight tonight.

PG and co have too much to lose, ie free first class flights all over the world.

SAA is basically the ANC’s private airline, paid for by the faithful 4%.

SAA is the ANC’s fat middle finger to the poor.

5.9% not acceptable!!!! ????
Excuse me, it’s almost DOUBLE inflation!

End of comments.

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