SAA and Unions Reach Wage Agreement


South African Airways (SAA) has reached an agreement with unions to end the industrial action, which began seven days ago.

SAA, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), ratified an agreement on Thursday, 21 November.

“Our country needs a joint effort to create and maintain productive industrial relations that are key to the stability required to grow and expand the economy, create and maintain jobs and promote the country’s global competitiveness.

“This agreement with the unions will help promote that atmosphere of positivity, inclusivity and sustainable growth,” said Zuks Ramasia, SAA’s Acting Chief Executive Officer.

Summary of the salient points of the agreement between SAA and the NUMSA and SACCA coalition are:

  1. The parties agree to an increase of 5.9% on total cost of employment retrospective to 1 April 2019, which will be paid in the February 2020 payroll, subject to availability of funding.
  2. The back payment for the first six months (April to September 2019) will be paid in the March 2020 payroll.
  3. The remaining four (4) months (October 2019 to January 2020) back pay will be paid in the April 2020 payroll.
  4. The entitlement to the salary increase and back pay as referred to in point 1, 2 and 3 above is subject to funds being obtained by SAA for such purposes and being available during February 2020, March 2020 and April 2020 as the case may be.
  5. The section 189A Labour Relations Act (LRA) process, for which notice was served on the 11thNovember 2019 to all recognised trade unions, will be deferred effective from the date of signature of this agreement to the 31stJanuary 2020. The deferment will only apply to this Bargaining Unit (non-management).
  6. The section 189A LRA process, which commenced on Wednesday, 20 November 2019, will however continue for SAA management, with the next consultation meeting scheduled for Monday, 25 November 2019.
  7. SAA and the recognised Trade Unions will apply to the relevant authorities (Department of Employment & Labour and the CCMA) for SAA to participate in the Training Layoff Scheme in terms of the rules of the scheme.
  8. The parties further agree to establish a Task Team. The main objective of the Task team will be to identify and consider cost saving initiatives, inter alia,insourcing and contracts. Should the Task Team be able to realise savings, a percentage of the after-tax savings may be ring-fenced and paid to employees in the Bargaining Unit. The Task Team will discuss and agree on a formula for such payment.
  9. The NUMSA and SACCA coalition agreed to, with immediate effect, call-off the industrial action, and instruct their members currently on strike to return to work latest by 23 November 2019.

SAA is equally pleased that the National Transport Movement (NTM) also signed SAA’s wage agreement earlier today,” Ramasia added.    

“We are proud of SAA employees’ sacrifices by supporting the airline in these difficult times,” said Ramasia.

“This deal, particularly the fact that we offered a 5.9% salary increase amidst grave financial challenges, is to recognise the company’s employees for the important contributions they make to the overall success of the company, economic development, and inbound and outbound tourism,” said Ramasia.

Ramasia added that the business environment over the past year has been very difficult and challenging for most businesses, including SAA.

“Global economic growth remains largely anaemic. The impact is being felt by most markets where the growth picture is fluid. As South Africa’s number one airline, we look forward to implementing this constructive agreement that helps SAA to enhance its competitiveness whilst preserving and protecting jobs,” she concluded.


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