Riyaz Patel

Striking unions at SAA are meeting with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan as a strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) enters its fifth day. 

Workers are demanding an 8% wage increase, no job cuts and the insourcing of employees.

The cash-strapped airline has offered an increase of 5.9%. 

The meeting comes ahead of a planned media briefing by SAA leadership Tuesday afternoon, where acting SAA CEO Zuks Ramasia and interim CFO Deon Fredericks are expected to give an update on the strike and wage negotiations. 

The state-owned carrier has cancelled hundreds of flights since the strike began on Friday, saying SAA is hemorrhaging R50 million rand per day and jeopardising talks with lenders.

The strike has cast doubt on the survival of the airline, which hasn’t turned a profit since 2011 and is reliant on state bailouts.

The unions have also threatened to shut down the entire aviation industry in Africa’s most industrialized nation by extending industrial action beyond the state-run airline.

Parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee has meanwhile blasted union calls for South Africans to boycott SAA as reckless and sabotage.

“It’s like you’re mobilising society against an entity that we need,” Committee chairperson Khaya Magaxa said.

He said the Committee were aware of the challenges facing SAA, adding the airline’s problems are a direct result of corruption caused by state capture.

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