Management of embattled SAA held a media briefing on Tuesday on the state of the company, amid the strike and wage increase negotiations with trade unions representing the employees.
Tuesday was day five of the strike, with the company’s acting CEO Zuks Ramasia pleading with striking employees to return to work.
Here are five key takeouts from the press conference:
Employees must come back
SAA acting boss Zuks Ramasia said management was open to welcoming back the employees who are still on strike. She asked that they return to work while the negotiations between the unions and the company proceeded.
“We are not in the habit of fighting our employees, so we really want our employees to come back to work.”
SAA, unions to battle it out in court
Ramasia accused the trade unions of trampling on the negotiations and using them to further an agenda not initially agreed to by both parties.
“Trade unions have added additional demands which are not part of the initial dispute. There have also been incidents of intimidation and non compliance to the picketing rules. The company has therefore decided to approach the labour court on an urgent basis to interdict those demands.”
SAA is open for business
The acting CEO said despite the strike and revenue loss, the airline was on the road to recovery, as international flights were in full operation on Tuesday and a number of limited regional flights to Zambia, Harare and Lagos were operating, among others. Ramasia said domestic flights were not being ignored, but rather were being taken over by SAA’s subsidiary Mango airlines.
“SAA is on the road of operational recovery. We’d like to confirm that we have resumed our operations, particularly on our international flights which have started operating. As from today, we have started with a limited number of our regional flights.”
We can’t afford the 8% salary increase
The company said it made it clear with the unions that it cannot afford the demanded wage increase of 8%, and has asked that the employees who are still on strike return to work “for the customers who pay our salaries”.
“The employees are demanding a wage increase of 8% and the company is only able to give a pay raise of 5.9%, only starting from March 2020, and we have communicated this very well with the unions.”
SAA employees are qualified
Ramasia said public safety came first as she rubbished claims made by trade union SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), that SAA staff are neither trained nor qualified to carry out duties to ensure the safety of passengers. She said the airline was taking legal action against the union to address the claims.
“We are operating very responsibly because safety is paramount, it’s important that our passengers all the time, when we crew up our aircraft and get technical people – everybody is qualified and competent to do so. The statement made by Sacca on the safety of SAA is very regrettable and untruthful. We are therefore taking appropriate legal action to address them.”