Pravin Gordhan EFF

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: Kopano Tlape/ GCIS

SAA strike: Pravin Gordhan holds crunch talks with unions

It is believed that unions have turned to Pravin Gordhan for a way forward.

Pravin Gordhan EFF

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. File photo: Kopano Tlape/ GCIS

On the fourth day of the SAA strike, it seems that there has been some escalation in negotiations between trade unions and government.

SAA strike: How much has the airline lost so far?

Since the strike took off on Friday, 15 November, it has been nothing but mayhem at Airways Park. Marting Kingston, a Board member at SAA had warned, during a plenary sitting with Scopa (Standing Committee on Public Accounts) that if workers did go ahead with the protests, the airline would lose R50-million per day.

Four days later, and with no indication that a resolution will be found in the short-term, the airline may have already lost an estimated R200-million and counting.

However, SAA has been trying to pull its weight and remains functional on a standby basis, with the help of its partner airlines, Mango and Airlink.

In a statement issued on Monday, 18 November, SAA spokesperson, Tlali Tlali noted that the airline was ready to repen flights to six regional destinations, namely: Accra, Lagos, Lusaka, Maputo, Windhoek and Harare.

“We are pleased that SAA is now able to increase services and to offer our customers more flights on the African continent, and that all our International flights are back on schedule. It is also important to assure SAA’s customers that our operations are safe and that the airline will never compromise on this core responsibility,” said Philip Saunders, SAA’s Chief Commercial Officer.

Pravin Gordhan holds crunch talks with unions

On an operational front, it seems that the airline is managing the pressure adequately. However, this is not ideal since negotiations between SAA and trade unions have hit a brick wall.

The unions, led by the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), the National Transport Movement (NTM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), are demanding an 8% salary increase across the board attached to a three-year guarantee of employment at the state parastatal.

The airine, however, is only willing to go as high as 5.9% and that is under the condition that it gets surety of financial supporty from National Treasury.

It appears, though, that in a bid to save the day and find closure to this mess, Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan has joined the fray.

At the time of publishing this article, the minister was locked in negotiations with unions.

Could other SOEs join strike in solidarity with unions?

By close of business, on Tuesday, we could be leading with an entirely different angle but the threat of the strike escalating to other state-owned entities cannot be understated.

Irvin Jim, the general-secretary at Numsa, has been on Twitter, leaking notes of his agenda in the meeting with the minister. On one interesting page, he scribbled a list of SOEs that may be keen on joining them on strike.

No other SOE has made any announcements in this regard.