Two unions have given South African Airways (SAA) notice to go on strike. The unions move comes after the embattled national carrier announced possible retrenchment of staff.

It says strike action will cripple operations and may cost the cash strapped airline up to R50 million a day.

The SAA board briefed Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts – Scopa – on its failure to table financial statements for the past two years.

SAA Board member Martin Kingston says:”We could table our accounts on a liquidation basis; to do so we will have to place the company into liquidation and there are consequences which are catastrophic.”

The SAA board believes that option was also not feasible and they cannot do so without the shareholder’s consent.

Acting SAA CFO Deon Fredericks says:”We can have our accounts signed by tomorrow with a disclaimed opinion, the fuel suppliers would pull their facilities. I will have to find about R581 million tomorrow, no flights would take off this is just to indicate that the house is on fire.”

SAA’s problems are far from over, with the unions now threatening to go on strike.

SAA Acting Board Chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso says: “The unions have gone to the CCMA and they have a non-resolution certificate which means they can declare a strike in 48 hours. We have received a notification this morning and if cabin crew go on strike no plane can take off.”

The public accounts watchdog had no empathy for the struggling airline -emphasising it still had to meet its obligations and submit financial statements.

Scopa issued a stern warning to the board.

Scopa Chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says:”The fundamental issue is that you need to shape up or ship out.”

Scopa has given SAA until the 27 of November to return to Parliament with a clear plan that indicates when they will submit the company’s financial statements.

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