South Africa unions threaten to ‘shut down’ aviation sector
South African unions on Sunday called on all aviation workers to join striking South African Airways (SAA) staff, after the cash-strapped airline failed to meet their demands.
The country's embattled flag carrier has been losing 52 million rand (3.5 million dollars) per day since more than 3,000 workers started an open-ended strike on Friday, forcing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.
Talks with the two unions representing the striking workers ended without resolution on Saturday, prompting threats of further action.
"In response to this deliberate provocation by the SAA board and its executive management, (the) NUMSA (metalworkers' union) is in the process of consulting workers for a secondary strike in aviation," NUMSA spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told reporters in front of the SAA headquarters in Johannesburg.
NUMSA and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) first threatened to strike after SAA announced this week that almost 1,000 employees could lose their jobs as part of a restructuring process.
Initial talks with management deadlocked after they failed to agree on wage hikes, prompting the unions to press on with their threats.
SAA is offering a 5.9-percent pay rise, while unions are demanding an eight-percent across-the-board hike and a three-year guarantee of job security.
They are also asking the airline to in-source more jobs.
More than 300 flights have been grounded as a result of the open-ended strike.
Some international flights are scheduled to resume on Sunday evening, while regional and domestic flights have been canceled until Monday.
"South African Airways advises customers that following the industrial strike action if you do not have a confirmed booking for your flight do not go to the airport," SAA tweeted on Sunday.
South Africa is struggling to get its state-owned companies back on track after nine years of corruption and mismanagement under former president Jacob Zuma.