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South Africa Unions Threaten To ‘Shut Down’ Aviation Sector

Workers of South African Airways (SAA) hold placards during a strike over wages and job cuts at SAA headquarters in Kempton Park, South Africa, November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Siyabonga Sishi

South African unions on Sunday called a strike at South African Airways (SAA) saying it was consulting with workers on a secondary strike across the industry after talks with the state-run carrier ended without a deal.

Talks with unions ended without resolution on Saturday, prompting threats of further action.

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The country’s embattled flag carrier has been losing 52 million rand ($3.5 million) per day since more than 3,000 workers started an open-ended strike on Friday forcing the airline to cancel hundreds of flights.

SAA offered a 5.9 percent pay rise while unions demanded an eight percent across-board-hike and a three-year guarantee of job security.

“We are fighting against retrenchment, corruption and privatization,” said National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, speaking at a media briefing broadcast on local television.

She told reporters that discussions with SAA subsidiaries, South Africa’s airport management company and airline service providers were underway.

“This secondary strike will have the impact of shutting down the entire aviation sector,” Hlubi-Majola told reporters.

Being one of the biggest airlines in Africa, the company is deep in debt and has not posted a profit since 2011 despite several government bailouts.

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Written by PH

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