Tuesday, 19 November 2019
Johannesburg: South African Airways (SAA) is currently operating all its international and some of its regional flights and domestic services despite its workers downing tools over salary increases.
These services are being carried out by sister airline Mango, Airlink and SA Express.
On Tuesday, the airline announced that it was resuming flights to six destinations on the African continent – namely Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare.
Customers travelling to these destinations are being rebooked on the reinstated services and are being contacted accordingly.
“We thank SAA employees who are back at work and those employees who have not joined the industrial action. They continue to carry our flag around the world. We also thank our loyal customers for supporting us in this difficult time,” SAA Acting CEO Zuks Ramasia said.
Last week, the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) embarked on an industrial action. The unions are demanding a wage increase of 8%, whilst the company is offering to pay 5.9% in March 2020, assuming funds are available at that time.
“We applaud our committed employees for understanding that the airline cannot afford salary increases at present, because of the financial difficulties we are facing.
“We call on all our employees to return to work for the sake of our customers and the company. After all, our customers contribute to our salaries and it is only through their confidence and custom that we can secure the future for SAA and ensure our essential contribution to the country’s economy. We are also very mindful of the contribution made by taxpayers to our sustainability,” Ramasia said.
She was providing an update on the strike by members of SACCA and NUMSA , during a media briefing, with her executives.
at the media briefing, SAA management explained the state of negotiations with unions, the ‘no-work, no-pay’ principle; and confirmed SAA’s continued commitment to safety.
Domestic and regional routes
SAA is continuing to work with its partner airline Mango to re-book all customers travelling on domestic routes.
“We are pleased that we have been able to offer our customers alternatives on domestic routes since Sunday.
“In the meantime, we thank our subsidiary airline, Mango, and partner airlines, Airlink, and SA Express, for doing a sterling job in supporting our domestic and regional networks. Once again, we regret the inconvenience caused to our valued customers,” Ramasia said.
SAA said it will continue to work hard to focus on gradually ramping up its regional and domestic services.
SAA has reiterated that its operations are fully compliant with regulations in force.
“Furthermore, we acknowledge the confirmation by the SA Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) that our operations are safe and fully compliant with international safety standards.
“Safety is our primary responsibility. SAA has never – and will never – compromise safety under any circumstances,” SAA said.
Ongoing industrial action
SAA said a growing number of employees do not support the strike.
More workers are coming back to work, and this is evidenced by the increasing number of flights being operated by the airline.
“SAA strongly condemns the intimidation of employees who have decided to report for work. Let us be clear; describing some of our employees as ‘traitors’ and threatening that ‘we know where you are’ are flagrant methods of intimidation – and will not be tolerated by SAA,” Ramasia said.
The airline said it was unfortunate that several incidents relating to intimidation against staff, as well as attempted non-compliance of picketing rules, have occurred.
“No one should ever be pressured by any union official or member to participate in this industrial action. The airline will not tolerate any form of intimidation against those wishing to report for duty, and is taking the necessary measures to protect them in the workplace,” SAA said.
According to the airline, the trade unions in dispute with SAA have added additional demands, which are not part of the conflict.
“The company has decided to approach the labour court on an urgent basis to interdict these demands, which are not procedural and also to address the non-compliance with picketing rules,” SAA said.
The conciliation process with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) will be reconvened shortly to mediate in the current deadlock between unions and management.