South African Airways acting chair Thandeka Mgoduso has confirmed that the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Cabin Crew Association issued the national carrier with a strike notice on Wednesday morning.
Mgoduso was appearing before parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).
SAA announced on Monday that it is embarking on a restructuring process which may affect 944 jobs - almost a fifth of its employees.
In response, Numsa and SACCA warned that their members are preparing for "the mother of all strikes at SAA".
On Wednesday, SAA briefed SCOPA on the reasons why it failed to submit its 2018-19 annual report and financial statements, as required by the Public Finance Management Act. The delegation told SCOPA that they were prevented from tabling the report as there are reservations whether the airline can be presented as a going concern. Over the past 13 years, the flag carrier has incurred over R28bn in cumulative losses.
The committee was not satisfied with their explanation, but gave the utility an opportunity to explain the financial situation and plans to table their annual report on November 20th.
SAA board member Martin Kingston told SCOPA that the only thing that may have changed by November 27th is a potential strike, which would lead to a further deterioration of the carrier's financial situation.
Deon Fredericks, interim chief financial officer (CFO) of SAA, told a media briefing on Tuesday that the strike will endanger the existence of SAA and could destroy every job at the state-owned airline. Fredericks said labour currently represents 24% of SAA's total cost.
Fin24 understands that SAA is currently under pressure to secure R2bn in working capital, which it needs before the end of November.
Government does not want to extend further support. Finance minister Tito Mboweni announced last month that Treasury won't extend additional bailouts to state-owned enterprises - any further financing will be in the form of loans, that will have to be repaid, with interest.