As SAA loses R52m a day, workers to resume striking on Saturday

They've dispersed for Friday after camping out since the early hours of the morning; SAA has cancelled most of its operations until Monday.

Striking South African Airways (SAA) workers outside the firm's Airways Park office on 15 November 2019. Picture: Bonga Dulane/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/ CAPE TOWN - Striking South African Airways (SAA) workers say they would return to the firm's Airways Park offices on Saturday for the second day of picketing aimed at forcing management to give in to their demands.

They've dispersed for Friday after camping out since the early hours of the morning; SAA has cancelled most of its operations until Monday.

Day one of protests may be over but union members said they would be back on Saturday to intensify their action.

They’re expected to start protesting at 8 am to once again put pressure on the airline's management.

SAA said it lost R52 million on Friday as thousands stayed away from work.

WATCH: Employees shut down SAA

The South African Cabin Crew Association’s Zazi Nsibonyoni-Mugambi said: “So, please 8 am let’s be here. We will get what we want at the end of the day, comrades.’

Numsa’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said they hoped management would make the right decision and adhere to their demands of an 8% increase and no retrenchments, so workers could return to their jobs.

The employer is offering 5.9% and is considering retrenching over 900 jobs in an attempt to stay afloat.

At the same time, SAA technical employees have described how they fear for their jobs, saying they also needed an 8% increase to continue sustaining their families.

Single mother Catherine Makhaga, who works for SAA as an aircraft technician, said the employer’s 5.9% increase offer was a drop in the ocean as she already took home a small salary.

“Those ones up there, they just eat the money and mismanage it. At the end of the day, who must suffer? It’s us. It’s not only about the 8%, but it’s also about saying ‘management up there, have some sense in your heads’.”

She also fears she may lose her job, which will have far-reaching implications for her family.

Her colleague, who wants to stay anonymous, said he needed job security and an increase badly.

“Times are tough, petrol and food are going up, so how are we supposed to come out of this?”

While workers have been warned that they will not be paid for the days on strike, this indefinite industrial action could be harmful not only for the airline but workers and their families who desperately need the money.


At the Cape Town International Airport, SAA operations have had to be scaled down.

In contrast to the buzz of passengers at other airline stands, SAA desks were empty.

Only two SAA employees were stationed at the troubled national carrier’s information desk on Friday - on hand to inform which flights were still operating.

Striking workers, who earlier demonstrated near cargo operations area, say they would be back there on Saturday.


SAA said while international flights were expected to resume on Sunday, there was still no indication of a breakthrough in talks with unions to stop the strike.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali confirmed that domestic flights will remain grounded for Sunday and Monday but said there was a plan for international flights.

“We have also taken a decision to reinstate our international flights and we will be commencing with our operations out of OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday. For the rest of our international stations, operations will resume as of Monday.”