Monday, May 26, 2008

South African Airways pilots agree to pay concessions

South African Airways A340The pilots of South African Airways (SAA) have agreed to a number of pay concessions in order to save costs for the airline. The airline announced that it had reached "a three year salary agreement, as well as a restructuring agreement" with the pilots union, the South African Airways Pilots Association (SAAPA).

According to a press release on the South African Airways website, the salary agreement includes these key aspects:
  • For the financial year 2007/08 no increases will be applied to the current salary scales.
  • For 2008/09 and 2009/10, a local market movement formula for salary increases will apply. To determine the local market movement for South Africa, a study will be done to benchmark salary increases in comparable companies and job categories.
  • The Maintenance of Parity (MOP) agreement is suspended for three years from 1 April 2007, ending 31 March 2010 and temporarily replaced by the three year salary agreement. Within the next year the parties will negotiate a new agreement.
As a part of the restructuring agreement, SAAPA also has agreed that the overtime rate for pilots will be reduced from 1.5 times the hourly rate to 1.25 times. An article about the agreement on the website also mentioned a "drop in uniform allowance, 5% productivity rise, and having their sick leave slashed."

The article reported that 45 SAA pilots have left the airline in the past six months, quoting SAAPA official Cathy Bill who said that "of those who had left the airline only five pilots had accepted the voluntary severance packages offered to staff at the end of last year, but that the rest were disillusioned with the restructuring process."
Bill said the pilots recognised the need to cut costs, and had made suggestions for cost savings.

She hoped that the second part of the restructuring plan, expanding SAA's network and fleet, would help improve conditions for pilots.

SAA announced recently that it would be recruiting 100 pilots. "We have had co-pilots that have been waiting for promotions for 12, 13 years, and we hope with the expansion that will now finally be possible," Bill said.
Bill also said that SAA's pilots were "certainly vulnerable" to poaching from other airlines.

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