Zuks Ramasia Chief Executive of South Africa's national carrier South African Airways addressed members of the media a media briefing held on Sunday. Photo: File

DURBAN - Zuks Ramasia the Acting Chief Executive of South Africa's national carrier South African Airways addressed members of the media at a media briefing held on Sunday. 

Ramasia felt that it was necessary to communicate with the media on four issues including:

1. Safety and Security
2. Update on discussions with Labour
3. The call for a Secondary Strike
4. Provide an Operational Update.

The airline said that the safety and security of customers, aircraft and employees are of paramount importance to South African Airways and they called on SACCA  and NUMS to retract allegations that flying the national carrier is in any way unsafe.

In a media statement Ramasia said, "SAA has a proven safety record and we have an unwavering commitment to safety. The safety and security of passengers and crew is the highest single priority to SAA. We do not compromise on that. We remain committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety and security on all our flights". 

The Acting Chief Executive of SAA called the unions allegations malicious and said that they represent an unfounded attack, as well as an insult to the Civil Aviation Authority, South African Airways, and South African Airways Technical (SAAT).

The airline has also called on NUMSA and SACCA to retract the allegations with immediate effect and if they fail to do so, SAA will consider taking legal action.

Ramasia said, "SAA is mindful of its obligations to comply with all regulations and continue to ensure safe and secure operations and will therefore maintain the required levels of personnel, including oversight post holders and necessary compliance training during this strike period". 

He added that the SAA Pilots are on strike neither are trainee pilots while all of the SAA trained cabin crew members meet the SA CAA requirements.

SAA has also condemned the intimidation of employees who have decided to work and the the airline said that they will not tolerate those seeking to intimidate those wishing to report for duty

The CCMA met with the company and the unions on Saturday in terms of the Section 150 process following SAA’s request to conciliate the salary increment impasse between SAA and SACCA/ NUMSA and NTM.

The CCMA Commissioners ended a long day’s proceedings last night, tasking the company to consider options on the way forward and the company will then revert to the Commissioners in due course.

The discussions between the parties will then reconvene with the CCMA Commissioners present. 

SAA has written two letters to these two unions requesting clarity on what exactly they are demanding on behalf of their members, to ensure that there is no confusion and/or uncertainty and yesterday the unions relayed their demands to the CCMA Commissioners.

NUMSA and SACCA have demanded an 8 percent salary increase which the airline has called only lawful demand made by NUMSA and SACCA under the current strike notices.

According to the airline, they cannot afford to pay any salary increases. However, they have offered the unions a 5.9 percent salary increase effective in the March 2020 pay month. In addition, the company will pay the first six months back-pay, from 1 April 2019 to 30 September 2019, in March 2020; and the remaining six months back-pay in April 2020, provided that SAA has received funds to do so.

In his media statement Ramasia said that SAA is concerned about NUMSA’s intention to start consultation with all sector players for a full-on aviation strike. 

The SAA Chief Executive said, "The intent of a secondary strike is to cause disruption, bring all airport operations to a halt and create huge damage to the South African economy. A secondary strike will affect the competitiveness of the South African economy as a whole". 

The airline will resume international flights to seven international destinations from Sunday while SAA’s domestic and regional flights remain cancelled.

SAA has been working with Mango and SA Express to re-accommodate as many customers as possible travelling on domestic services.

Depending on availability, customers traveling to regional destinations are being re-accommodated on SA Airlink and other airlines where possible.

Customers seeking a refund or wishing to rebook their travel on a future SAA service have until 30 November 2019 to finalise their arrangements. 

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE