Strike looms at South African Airways


File: Union officials claim SAA is a profitable organisation that's being undermined by looters.

JOHANNESBURG – South African Airways (SAA) warned on Tuesday, that its operations may be disrupted after one of the labour unions served the embattled airline with a notice of intention to embark on industrial action at its aircraft maintenance unit. 

This comes after the airline’s maintenance subsidiary, SAA Technical (SAAT), received a notice of the intention to embark on industrial action at the weekend from one labour union following the tabling of a wage increase proposal by SAAT. 

SAA said the industrial action was a consequence of wage increase disagreement between the employer and labour unions. It was not immediately clear as to what the union’s demands entail.

The airline said parties have held several other meetings since the notice was served and are expected to meet again on Wednesday morning.
As a result of the intended strike notification, the airline said it began to review and update its contingency measures to ensure business continuity and to minimise the impact of strike action on its operations.

In a statement, the airline said it will advise after the meeting with the unions on whether the strike would, in fact, take place or the extent to which the strike had affected its operations if at all.
“In the event the strike takes place, SAA will provide all possible and necessary assistance to customers who may need such support. Information on the status of our flights will be placed on all official channels of communication, including social media accounts and updated on a continuous basis,” SAA said.
“Management at SAAT will spare no effort to work jointly with the labour unions to find solutions that accommodate the employee demands, safeguard the business and to avert possible industrial action.”

The South African government on Friday approved the transfer of R3 billion in funds from the National Revenue Fund (NRF) to SAA to allow the airline to meet its debt obligations to Citibank and avoid a default. 

SAA had to meet its repayment obligations on a Citibank loan amounting to R6.8 billion. Citibank demanded R1.8 billion by the end of September. This coincided with the prospect of SAA being unable to pay salaries because of a severe cash crunch.

The rest of the NRF sourced funds, R1.2 billion, would be given to SAA for working capital cost.

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