A South African Airlines check-in desk at Cape Town International Airport. Staff and management have reached an agreement on a 5.9 percent salary increase after a highly disruptive strike that forced the airline to cancel domestic and international flights. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG – SA Airways (SAA) will resume normal operations from the weekend after unions finally agreed to a 5.9% wage increase following a long-week strike and protracted negotiations at the airline.

Thousands of workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers Union of SA (Numsa) and SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) downed tools at SAA last week Friday.

They were demanding eight percent salary increases across the board, insourcing of workers and job security for at least three years.

The airline had cancelled hundreds of flights since the strike began on Friday, saying the stoppage is costing R50 million a day and jeopardising its talks with lenders.

SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said following the agreement, the airline will operate a near normal service as from Saturday and full schedule operations will start on Sunday.

Adding to this was SAA chief commercial officer Philip Saunders, who said: “We are delighted to be able to announce a resumption in normal schedules. 

"On behalf of SAA, I would like to express our deep regret at the inconvenience caused to our loyal customers during this industrial dispute. We will continue to assist those passengers, that have still not been able to travel, to reach their intended destination as soon as possible."

According to the agreement inked on Friday, workers who earn less than R1 million per annum will get a 5.9% increase, retrospective to 1 April 2019, and be paid on February 20, 2020.

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

The airline also indicated on Thursday that it would not be able to pay some staff salaries on time for the month of November.

African News Agency (ANA)