File photo: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings.
File photo: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings.

SAA flights resume after deal with unions ends strike

By Kenneth Mokgatlhe and Manyane Manyane Time of article published Nov 24, 2019

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Nearly all of cash-strapped SAA’s flights have resumed - on Saturday it confirmed its operations had been restored after the strike by staff ended.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said the strike, which continued for eight days, was called off after the national carrier reached an agreement with the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca).

However, Tlali said SAA had yet to determine the cost of the strike - when it began SAA said it would cause the loss of about R52 million a day.

“We are in the process of raising capital to fund our day-to-day operations. This will form part of the working capital we are currently negotiating for with the lenders,” said Tlali.

The entire flight schedule was restored, with the exception of two flights, on Saturday. 

The flight was the Johannesburg to East London and the other one is in Livingstone route in Zimbabwe . These two flight were expected to start operating Sunday.

The strike started after SAA announced on November 11 it intended to retrench about 944 out of its 5149 employees - 20% of its workforce - to reduce operating costs by R700 million.

The announcement came amid wage negotiations with Numsa and Sacca. The two unions demanded an 8% wage increase, which the national carrier refused, citing financial difficulties.

After negotiations between SAA and the unions deadlocked, the unions told their members to prepare for the “mother of all strikes”, which started on November 15.

Among demands made by Numsa and Sacca were job security for at least three years, and that outsourced services be insourced.

On Friday, the strike was called off after the parties reached a settlement.

“We are pleased to say we have secured the 8% wage increase, after the company (SAA) initially offered 0%,” the unions said in a joint statement. The agreement was broken down as such:

5.9% wage increase on total cost of employment.

This is expected to be included on the 2020 February payroll, and will be backdated to April 1.

The back pay for six months (April to September) will be included on the March 2020 payroll.

The back pay for four months (October 2019 to January 2020) will be paid in April 2020.

Sunday Independent

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