SAA makes new offer to unions as strike nears

SAA has made a new offer to unions in a bid to avert a looming strike at the national flag carrier. 

Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, the spokesperson for the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, said on Thursday morning that the new offer would be put to union members at a meeting set to start at 14:00. 

"I cannot tell you the details of that offer. We only ever communicate offers once they have been agreed to and finalised," she said.   

About 3 000 members of Numsa and the South African Cabin Crew Association are planning to start a strike in the early hours of Friday morning at SAA and SAA Technical. The struggling state-owned airline, in turn, has scrapped all domestic, regional, and international flights on Friday and Saturday, with the exception of a few international flights.

SAA previously said that a strike could endanger the future of the airline and threaten jobs.The group's acting CEO Zuks Ramasia, said earlier in the week that the airline had offered the unions a 5.9% salary increase subject to the availability of funds. The national carrier also announced on Monday that it is embarking on a restructuring process which may affect up to 944 jobs - almost a fifth of its employees.

Unions want an increase of 8% across-the-board wag, job security for at least three years, and the in-sourcing of more staff. 

The EFF, meanwhile, in a statement on Thursday, said it would "join in [the strike] together with our ground forces".

"The failure of SAA cannot be blamed on ordinary workers," said the party. 

The DA, meanwhile, said on Thursday morning that SAA was "playing into the hands of opportunistic unions as they continue to hold the national carrier to ransom".

- Additional reporting by Carin Smith and Helena Wasserman 

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