Recognised trade unions representing workers at the South African Airways (SAA) are seething on Tuesday after the ailing national carrier announced large scale restructuring which could lead to mass job losses.
The state-owned company has begun Section 189 consultations with labour as part of its turnaround strategy.
While SAA concedes it does not know how many workers will be affected, it estimates 944 employees might be retrenched.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the Cabin Crew Association said they would stage what they described as the “mother of all strikes against SAA”.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said: “As far as we’re concerned, it is a veiled threat to get workers to drop their demands for wage increases and the demand for the removal of the SAA board. And we condemn the management with the contempt that they deserve.”
The anger by unions stems from what they regard as dishonesty by SAA.
They claim the national carrier told them just last week that the organisational re-design for restructuring was not complete.
Meanwhile, transport union Satawu’s spokesperson Zanele Sabela said they were not impressed with SAA.
“It is ridiculous because all the unions were in a forum on Friday, so we were surprised that on Monday they let the media know that they’re thinking of restructuring.”
SAA explained that it urgently needs to address its ongoing loss-making position, which has been a challenge over the last eight years.
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