President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South African Airways (SAA) management and unions to urgently seek solutions to their labour dispute.
SAA has cancelled nearly all domestic, regional and international flights on Friday and on Saturday following an announcement by the South African Cabin Crew Association and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa that their members will embark on what they are calling ‘the mother of all strikes’ on Friday morning.
The dispute comes after the airline refused to give in to their salary demands and started consultations about the implementation of its restructuring plan which will lead to the retrenchment of more than 900 staff.
Unions are demanding an 8% salary increase but SAA management is offering 5.9%, subject to the availability of funds.
The President was speaking in an interview with the SABC at the conclusion of the BRICS Summit in Brazil.
Ramaphosa says, “Well government obviously is the shareholder, so the shareholder obviously has to play a role in the background while management and the board of directors are in the scrum together with the unions, and dealing with all these issues. So government is not completely delinked from this process and we’ll obviously try to find ways together with management to resolve this dispute.”
Meanwhile, SAA says it is open to negotiations with unions. SAA spokesperson Tladi Tladi says they have approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to request it to mediate .
“The CCMA has taken action and they have already appointed a senior commissioner who is going to facilitate the process. However, for this particular process to get under way, it requires consent on the part of other parties that are part of the process and this dispute. It is a voluntary process in nature, and we are awaiting feed-back or response from labour unions for them to indicate as to whether or not they are going to participate in this mediation process.”
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