Strike has not shut down all SAA services


South African Airways (SAA) is currently operating international and some regional flights and domestic services despite workers downing tools over salary increases.

These services are being carried out by sister airline Mango, Airlink and SA Express.

On Tuesday, the airline announced a resumption of flights to six destinations on the African continent – Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare.

Customers travelling to these destinations are rebooked on the reinstated services and contacted accordingly.

“We thank SAA employees who are back at work and those employees who have not joined the industrial action. They continue to carry our flag around the world. We also thank loyal customers for supporting us in this difficult time,” SAA Acting CEO Zuks Ramasia said.

Last week, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) embarked on industrial action. The unions demand a wage increase of eight percent with the company offering 5.9% in March 2020, assuming funds are available then.

“We applaud committed employees for understanding the airline cannot afford salary increases at present, because of financial difficulties we face.

“We call on employees to return to work for the sake of our customers and the company. Customers contribute to our salaries and it is through their confidence and custom we will secure the future for SAA and ensure our essential contribution to the country’s economy. We are also mindful of the contribution made by taxpayers to our sustainability,” Ramasia said.

She was providing an update on the strike by SACCA and NUMSA , during a media briefing, with her executives.

At the briefing, SAA management explained the state of negotiations with unions, the ‘no-work, no-pay’ principle; and confirmed SAA’s continued commitment to safety.

Domestic and regional routes

SAA continues to work with partner airline Mango to rebook all customers on domestic routes.

“We are pleased we have been able to offer customers alternatives on domestic routes since Sunday.

“In the meantime, we thank subsidiary airline, Mango, and partner airlines, Airlink and SA Express, for a sterling job in supporting our domestic and regional networks. Again, we regret inconvenience caused to valued customers,” Ramasia said.

SAA will continue to focus on gradually ramping up regional and domestic services.

SAA reiterated its operations are fully compliant with regulations in force.

“We acknowledge the confirmation by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) our operations are safe and fully compliant with international safety standards.

“Safety is our primary responsibility. SAA has never – and will never – compromise safety under any circumstances,” SAA said.

Ongoing industrial action

SAA said a growing number of employees do not support the strike.

More workers are coming back to work, evidenced by an increasing number of flights.

“SAA strongly condemns intimidation of employees who report for work. Let us be clear; describing some employees as ‘traitors’ and threatening ‘we know where you are’ is flagrant intimidation – and will not be tolerated by SAA,” Ramasia said.

The airline said it was unfortunate several incidents of intimidation against staff, as well as attempted non-compliance of picketing rules, occurred.

“No one should be pressured by any union official or member to participate in industrial action. The airline will not tolerate any intimidation against those wishing to report for duty and is taking necessary measures to protect them,” SAA said.

According to the airline, the trade unions in dispute with SAA added additional demands, not part of the conflict.

“The company decided to approach the labour court on an urgent basis to interdict these demands, which are not procedural and address non-compliance with picketing rules,” SAA said.

The conciliation process with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will be reconvened to mediate the deadlock between unions and management.