An SAA airline strike is underway on Friday, by workers affiliated with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca).
The strike comes after South African Airways (SAA) on Monday announced plans to get rid of almost a fifth of its workforce through a restructuring process.
Workers are demanding an urgent insourcing, an end to retrenchments and 8% salary increase.
Bongani Bingwa chats to Sacca president, Zazi Nsibanyoni-Anyiam Mugambi and SAA acting chief financial officer, Deon Fredricks.
Our members are here, we have started picketing and it looks like this is a successful strike. However, we are always willing to engage with SAA management.— Zazi Nsibanyoni-Anyiam Mugambi, President - Sacca
She says workers are calling for accountability by SAA boards and management as to whether there is a strike or not, the airline can't be sustained.
We believe that the government needs to intervene and boards and managements that know what they are doing and that can make decisions in the best interest of SAA. We don't believe that is the case right now. This is not an attempt to cripple SAA, in our eyes its an intent to save it from current management and board.— Zazi Nsibanyoni-Anyiam Mugambi, President - Sacca
Workers have given SAA solutions on how to fund the proposed 8% increase, she adds.
Fredricks says many things went wrong at the airline including state capture.
We have had the unfortunate matter of not having the right leadership. We have had contracts where the middleman was earning 30% for not doing anything. We have started addressing most of those issues.— Deon Fredricks, Acting CFO - SAA
Unfortunately, issues will not be fixed in just a couple of years, but it will take at least five years, he explains.
We tried to approach the unions on Tuesday, they indicated that they were not available. We tried on Wednesday afternoon still no luck. We managed to get them on Wednesday evening.— Deon Fredricks, Acting CFO - SAA
He says the airline's initial offer was 0% and it increased that offer by 5.9%.
We have bent backwards and given them a new offer now that we will pay them six months back pay in April and the balance in October 2020. We will increase salaries by 5% even that wasn't good enough. My concern is that it appears that unions don't want to settle.— Deon Fredricks, Acting CFO - SAA
Listen below to the full conversation: