Four unions at the troubled national carrier, the South African Airways (SAA), have accepted payment of three months deferred salaries.

The department of Public Enterprises says the members of the unions and formations will on Friday also be paid a lump sum of the 5.9 % increase backdated to April 2020, and their pro rata savings towards a 13th cheque.

The four unions and three non-unionised workers formations include Satawu, National Transport Movement (Natu) and SAA non-unionised management and non-management.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the SA Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the SAA Pilot’s Association have not accepted the offer.

While the Department of Public Enterprises says there is still room for engagement, together with the SAA business rescue practitioners have called on employees who wish to be paid outside their union’s mandate to come forward.

The department says the funding made available by government is limited and focused on restructuring SAA, and restarting operatifons at SAA including its subsidiaries.

Numsa has previously accused the business rescue practitioners and the Public Enterprises Department of sidestepping unions and trying to convince workers individually to take the offer on the table.

SAA workers salaries have not been paid in eight months.

SAA Business Rescue practitioners notify workers on looming retrenchments:

Earlier in December it was reported that a showdown is expected between government and trade unions over unpaid salaries at the South African Airways (SAA).

There are concerns that the likelihood of a messy court battle would further complicate efforts to rescue the struggling airline.

State-owned SAA has not made a profit in almost a decade and the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened its financial situation. It was placed under voluntary business rescue in December last year.

Aviation expert Desmond Latham speaks about the conditions that Ethiopian Airline has proposed to assist the airline: