With all international and some regional flights back in operation, and domestic services carried out by sister airline Mango, South African Airways (SAA) is on the road to operational recovery.
“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”, said SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia.
“We applaud our committed employees for understanding that the airline cannot afford salary increases at present, because of the financial difficulties we are facing. The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are demanding a wage increase of 8%, whilst the company will only be in a position to pay 5.9% in March 2020, assuming funds are available at that time,” said Ramasia.
Speaking at a media update on the strike Ramasia and her executives explained the state of negotiations with unions, the ’no-work, no-pay’ principle; and confirmed SAA’s continued commitment to safety.
“SAA would like to record its appreciation to those employees that have decided to return to work, despite receiving threats and intimidation from the unions. It is clear and encouraging that many of our employees are increasingly determined to put our customers first,” said Ramasia.
All flights to the airline’s eight international destinations are now operating as usual and on an ongoing basis.
Today SAA is 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.
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,” said Ramasia.
SAA will continue to work hard to focus on gradually ramping up our regional and domestic services. The next announcement in this regard will be made later today.
As previously mentioned, our 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.
The statements made by SACCA and NUMSA are deeply regrettable, untruthful and without foundation. In response, SAA is taking appropriate legal action for these statements to be retracted.
“Our flight deck, cabin crew and technicians are highly qualified. For example, on the international flights operated by SAA on Sunday, each member of our cabin crew team had an average of 16 years’ experience, and each pilot on the flight deck had an average of 20 years’ experience.’
Status of Ongoing Industrial Action
A growing number of our employees do not support the strike. More workers are coming back to work, and this is evidenced by the increasing number of flights SAA are operating.
“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.” said Ramasia.
Participating in industrial action is a personal choice. Unfortunately, there have been several incidents relating to intimidation against staff, as well as attempted non-compliance of picketing rules.
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.
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.
The Personal Cost of Striking
The strike comes at a personal cost to employees. With SAA’s “no-work-no-pay” principle, the salary loss for a striking employee embarking on strike action for seven days will take him or her approximately four months to recover.
This is calculated on the basis of a 5.9% salary increase, implemented against the total cost of employment.
Cost of The Industrial Action
The cost to the company of industrial action consists of many elements.
These include the costs related to rebooking customers on other airlines, claims from customers, denied boarding compensation, lost average daily revenue, lost future sales, aircraft parking, SAA Cargo revenue losses, and salaries for pilots and cabin crew who are not on strike.
The cost of the reputational damage to the company is immeasurable.
Status of Negotiations
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 is ongoing.
Our efforts are focused on finding solutions that recognise employees’ concerns, safeguard the business and return operations to normal without delay.