Speaker of Parliament Thandi Modise. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

PARLIAMENT - Speaker Thandi Modise on Wednesday agreed to a request from the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party to call an urgent debate on the state of SA Airways.

"We welcome the speaker’s decision in heeding not only our call for this debate but the nation's yearning for a return to normality in management and proper functioning at SAA," IFP chief whip Narend Singh said.

Singh said the debate would allow Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to explain to the country what corrective steps will be put in place to prevent a repeat of unprecedented disruption as staff walked off the job.

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) went on strike on Friday over wages and proposed job cuts at the loss-making national carrier. They are demanding an eight percent salary increase.

Gordhan cautioned on Wednesday that not only did the airline not have the money to pay the increase, but there was also a risk it might not be able to pay salaries at all. He noted that mediation efforts were underway and said he hoped these would prove successful.

Singh said the National Assembly's planning committee would on Thursday schedule a suitable time for the debate next week.

African News Agency (ANA)