Warning of ‘devastating impact’ of second SAA strike

The South African air freight market has been warned of the devastating effects a second protest will have on cargo handling operations, as South African Airways (SAA) attempts to restore operations at the airline following a week of industrial action.

SAA had to suspend many of its services, including regional and international flights, after some 3 000 staff members decided to down tools, with the protest action taking a toll on SAA’s cargo handling operations.

According to Paul March, managing director of Horizon Underwriting Managers, further protest action could push shippers away by driving up the cost of doing business. 

“In the short term there is a massive inconvenience and the possibility of lost orders or lost income as other carriers have to be employed at great cost. Shippers should look at every alternative rather than use SAA, as the increased costs will be for their account.”

The 3 000 SAA staff members, mostly made up of union members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), decided to go on strike on November 14 over salary concerns.

The eight-day strike was settled on November 22 after SAA and the unions agreed on a 5.9% salary increase retrospective to April this year, falling 2.1% percent short of the union’s original 8% demands. – Bjorn Vorster

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