The South African Airlines check-in desk at Cape Town International Airport on November 14, 2019, a day before unions embarked on a strike to press for an 8 percent wage increase, among other demands. PHOTO: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Workers at national carrier South African Airways began a two-day strike likely to cost the financially-strapped airline millions of rand as it was forced to cancel almost all its domestic, regional and international flights scheduled for Friday and Saturday.

Workers affiliated to the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) want an 8 percent wage increase and have rejected SAA's offer of 5.9 percent.

NUMSA said the strike was an indefinite national shut down which would see workers picket at the country's airports in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London.

On Thursday the carrier, which plans to run just four flights to the capital cities of neighbouring Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, said on Thursday said a “no-work-no-pay” principle would apply to strike employees while those who reported for duty would be allowed to work.

The workers are also angry after the airline said on Monday it was embarking on a restructuring process which may lead to job losses for approximately 944 workers. 

African News Agency (ANA)