Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday said he urged striking unions to work with South African Airways (SAA) management to end the strike.
Gordhan met with workers in Tshwane on day five of the strike, which continued to cost the airline over R50 million a day. The minister also met with the board and management of SAA as the airline prepared to resume some domestic services on Thursday.
Meanwhile, SAA board chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso said unions were being stubborn.
“We all have to think out of the box about other solutions to end the strike, that’s the engagement that we are having with the unions,” Mgoduso said.
SAA management and the unions were expected to continue talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.
CAN’T AFFORD IT
SAA acting CEO Zuks Ramasia claims the airline is on the road to recovery.
Wage talks between the airline, Numsa and the SA Cabin Crew Association remain deadlocked.
However, Ramasia said things were looking up for the parastatal.
“It is important to note that the domestic service is not being ignored but is being operated by our subsidiary, Mango Airlines. Therefore, SAA is on the road of operational recovery as we speak.”
Acting CFO Deon Fredericks said they could not afford to pay what the unions are asking.
“We’ve indicated to the unions that we’re prepared to give them an increase of 5.9%, however, we don’t have the financial muscle at this stage.”
SAA management said it was open to talks but unions must be reasonable.
NOT SEEKING BAILOUT – JUST YET
The troubled airline said it would not approach government for a bailout – just yet.
The airline needs over R2 billion to continue its operations until next year.
The state-owned entity said it was talking to banks in a bid to source funds.
It has a R9 billion debt bill and needs another R2 billion just to stay afloat.
Fredericks said they were looking at other avenues.
“The debt that we will incur now is R2 billion and because of the difficult operating environment as we’ve indicated, as well as the unintended impact of the strike, we will have to procure additional debt.”
Fredericks said they were desperate to end the costly strike.
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