FILE PHOTO: Logo of SAA is seen on an aircraft at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg
JOHANNESBURG - Beleaguered  SAA begins a new task of recovering millions it lost after an eleventh hour agreement ended a crippling eight day strike that grounded its planes.

SAA said it would be restoring a full flight schedule in stages throughout the weekend with a full schedule expected on all three of SAA networks today. 

Acting chief executive Zuks Ramasia said the settlement reached on Friday was to recognise the company’s employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company.

"Our country needs a joint effort to create and maintain productive industrial relations that are key to the stability required to grow and expand the economy, create and maintain jobs and promote the country's global competitiveness," she said.

"This agreement with the unions will help promote that atmosphere of positivity, inclusivity and sustainable growth."

SAA operations came to ground after workers downed tools demanding an 8 percent wage  increase, job security and insourcing last Friday.

The airline incurred more than R50 million loss a day until it gradually reintroduced regional and domestic flights a few days later.  

The strike was triggered by SAA’s announcement of a restructuring plan that could result in over 900 job losses two weeks ago.

The National Union of Metalworkers Union of SA (Numsa) and SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) ratified the agreement on Thursday and signed on Friday midday under the auspices of the mediator.

According to the agreement, workers who earn less than R1m per annum will get a 5.9 percent increase, retrospective to 1 April 2019, to be paid on 20 February 2020.

The back payment for the first six months (April to September 2019) will be paid in the March 2020 payroll, while the remaining four months (October 2019 to January 2020) will be paid in April 2020 payroll.

However, these salary increases and back payments would be  subject to funds being obtained by SAA.

The airline is scrambling to secure a R2 billion government guaranteed funding from lenders for daily operations and to pay November salaries on time.

SAA said the first tranche of funding would be used to sustain operations while the second would be prioritized for salaries when it is received in January/February 2020.

The agreement gave managers earning between R1m and R1.49m a 2.8 percent increase while those earning beyond the band were excluded.

SAA said the 189 consultation process, which commenced on Wednesday, would however continue with the next consultation meeting scheduled for tomorrow.

The parties further agree to establish a task team to identify and consider cost saving initiatives through insourcing and contracts. 

SAA said should the task team be able to realise savings, a percentage of the after-tax savings could be ring-fenced and paid to employees in the bargaining unit. 

BUSINESS REPORT