Check-in counters are seen at Cape Town International Airport. File photo: Courtney Africa

Johannesburg - South African Airways (SAA) technical staffers affiliated to Satawu downed tools on Monday to demand a 12-percent wage increase, the union said.

South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union spokesman Vincent Masoga said the strike will carry on indefinitely as the union is not prepared to accept any less.

Masoga said union representatives were meeting employers to discuss SAA’s 6.5-percent offer.

“The meeting this morning (Monday) is to discuss the 12-percent wage increase demand that we want for the cost to company packages... and to inform SAA that we will not be backing down from this demand,” Masoga said.

He said some members were picketing at OR Tambo International Airport which would likely affect operations of domestic and international flights that are contracted with SAA's technical operations.

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said as far as he knew, numerous flights had taken off and landed at the airport.

“It's a bit early to tell if operations could be severely affected, but we have contingency plans in place,” Tlali said.

He declined to comment on the wage negotiations, but maintained that it was a transparent process between the unions and the employer. He said SAA would make an offer that would be sustainable.

“We are not in the habit of conducting our wage talks through the media. But the unions have been told to take the company's current financial situation into account, as the international climate of airlines, at the moment, also affects us.”

Meanwhile, Masoga said the negotiations have been taking place in a hostile environment.

“Management at SAA in general are highly unreasonable and that is why we will not back down.” - Sapa