Operations at South African Airways (SAA) will return to normal from Friday evening – with salaries being paid as scheduled later this month. SAA had earlier warned it might not be able to pay salaries amid the wage strike.

The CCMA, Unions and SAA have all confirmed that the wage dispute has ended. The CCMA – who mediated the tough wage talks has praised the parties for remaining in the mediation process.

The National Union of Metal workers (NUMSA) and the Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) ended their week-long strike after signing an eight percent wage deal with SAA management.

Workers will get a 5.9% increase and a further 2.1% when the airline returns to profitability. Amongst other things, SAA has also postponed the planned retrenchments of 900 staff.

NUMSA’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola addressing union members outside the SAA buildings in  Kempton Park, east of Johannesburg, says “We engaged in two days of marathon negotiations in order to draft an agreement which is satisfactory to both parties. We consulted our members and they have given us a mandate to sign the proposal and we are calling off the strike action at SAA and SAAT with immediate effect. Our strike was never just about wages . At the centre of our demands was to secure changes which could result in the long term sustainability and assist it to get back to the path of profitability.”

SAA has also committed to paying salaries for the month of November to its staff, and thereafter. SAA had earlier warned it might not be able to pay salaries amid the wage strike.

“Salaries will be paid in November, salaries will be paid in December, government has committed to that. So the first big amount is being paid now for operational purposes and salaries and government has committed to another payment in January and that’s going to pay for your 5.9%.”

SAA says it will restore a full flight schedule in stages over the weekend. The airline says it will start operating a “near normal service” from Saturday.

This after the airline cancelled most of its flight at the high of the strike and only resumed flight based on capacity.  -Reporting by Mbalenhle Mthethwa and Amina Accram 

Watch workers celebrate the wage deal agreement, see video below: