Staff strike could shut down South African Airways, warn managers

South African Airways (SAA) management is warning that a potential strike carried out by cabin crew and other workers could threaten the future of the carrier.

The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) issued a call for a strike to begin on Friday 15 November in support of a pay claim.

However, acting chief executive, Zuks Ramasia said that any industrial action would “result in a set of circumstances from which there may well be no recovery,” adding: “The recognised unions are aware that our financial challenges are caused by a number of factors, including a severely distressed global airline industry, which has resulted in numerous airlines retrenching staff, embarking on cost-reduction programmes, implementing wage freezes, reducing operations, or even closing down.”

Ramasia added: “Like other airlines, SAA is under severe financial pressure. At the moment, our costs are higher than our revenue, and the sooner we address that, the better for the immediate survival of the company.”

She said that the airline had offered employees a 5.9% rise subject to the availability of funds from lenders but the unions are demanding an 8% increase.

SAA recently went to arbitration in a bid to thwart a salary increase of 5.9% for its pilots but this was rejected.

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