The union of South African Airways worker have disrupted the operations of the state-owned airline.
South African Airways cancelled nearly all its flights (local and international) scheduled for Friday and Saturday. Hence the flight’s cancellation only affects flights directly operated by SAA. It does not affect flights by subsidiaries Mango, SA Express, SA Air Link as well as those of private operators.
Could this be the end of South African Airways?
South African Airways has been bleeding money for years. At the beginning of the week, the airline announced details of rather radical restructuring. So the restructuring will have the airline laying off over 900 out of their 5,000+ workforce.
Although job loss is quite a terrible situation. And the truth is that SAA is inefficient. Unless something is done about the financial situation of the airline, every worker will eventually lose their jobs.
The restructuring at SAA will be finalise in March of 2020 and it would save the airline 700 million rands ($47m), based on the 900+ employees being fired.
The strike embarked upon by the staff of the airline is not entirely because of the restructuring. While the employees want a pay raise. Also, the demands of the workers are quite straightforward; 3-years job security, 8 percent salary increase. And an end to contracting-in of security, cleaning and other services.
If the demands are not met, the union has promised to continue the strike indefinitely.
Restructuring now the norm in South Africa
South African Airways is among several government firms that seek to reduce staff costs. As the government looks to slash its wage bill.
The South African Post Office is also cutting down jobs. And paying voluntary severance packages to about 700+ employees. As in the case of SAA, cutting down jobs in the Post Office is part of a phased reorganisation.
Likewise, the country’s debt-ridden power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd is being threatened with demonstrations amidst plans to split the company into three.
Unions argue that workers should not be the ones to bear the brunt of mismanagement. And alleged corruption at state companies.