SAA shutdown not just about wages, says union’s Hlubi-Majola

Striking unions say the week-long industrial action at South African Airways was about more than just wages
Striking unions say the week-long industrial action at South African Airways was about more than just wages

Striking unions say the week-long industrial action at South African Airways was about more than just wages.

“It was never just about wages,” said National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) national spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.

Reading a joint statement on behalf of Numsa, the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and SAA technical teams on Friday afternoon, Hlubi-Majola emphasised that the strike was a victory for all.

“At the centre of our demands was to secure changes that would result in the long-term sustainability of the SAA group and to assist it to get back on the path to sustainability,” she told jubilant union members and the media.

“Ultimately our goal was to save SAA and to save jobs and we have succeeded in both.”

The protest, which began last Friday after the state-owned entity and the two unions were, according to Hlubi-Majola, “deadlocked on the issues of wages for more than two weeks”, came to an end this afternoon after the parties involved reached a wage agreement.

According to a statement released by SAA, the organisation’s acting CEO Zukisa Ramasia on Friday confirmed that SAA, Numsa and Sacca “have reached a wage agreement that will return business to full operations”.

According to the statement by Ramasia, “the parties have agreed to an increase of 5.9% on total cost of employment retrospective to April 1b2019, which will be paid in the February 2020 payroll, subject to availability.”

Increase break down

• An increase of 5.9% will be paid in the February 2020 payroll to be backdated to April 1 2019;

• The back payment for the first six months [April to September 2019] will be paid in the March 2020 payroll; and

• The remaining four months [October 2019 to January 2020] back pay will be paid in the April 2020 payroll.

“Members demanded an 8% increase and to achieve this, the remaining 2.1% will be funded by the task team whose main objective to consider is cost-saving initiatives, including insourcing.”

According to Hlubi-Majola, the task team which “will be facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration will constitute Numsa and Sacca members because these are the people “who can be trusted with ensuring that the process is done properly”.

Hlubi-Majola went on to commend union members who had taken part in the strike as they “put their incomes on the line”.

Ramasia announced earlier this week that the airline was enforcing the “no work no pay principle which will lead to a loss of salaries for striking employees”.

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