Unions are threatening to shutdown SAA operations following the airline’s notice that it plans to cut jobs as part of a restructuring process.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) released a joint statement calling for the SAA board to be scrapped. If their demands are not met, the unions will prepare workers “for the mother of all strikes at SAA at all its operations nationally”.

The national spokesperson for Numsa, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, told TNW they have already received a strike certificate and have concluded the balloting process.

“We will alert the media once we have a final day for when we decide to go on strike. At this point we don’t have a date but technically we are ready following the successful procurement of the certificate.”

In a written response sent to TNW by SAA media relations officer, Tlali Tlali, the airline said it had “taken note of the media statements”.

“We urge labour to avoid an option of embarking on a strike action as this could hurt all of us, employees and the company.”

On Monday, SAA issued a statement warning of potential job losses. The airline said it had commenced a consultation process with employees in line with section 189 of the Labour Relations Act. The act requires an employer to consult with recognised labour unions and keep abreast employees who may be affected by the restructuring process.

Numsa and Sacca have condemned this statement, saying that SAA only informed workers of its intention to restructure in the statement and not prior.

“No such consultation process ever took place. We have been engaging with SAA management on wage talks and the last meeting took place [November 11]. Our demands for an 8% wage increase have been denied and this is why we are questioning the timing of this announcement.”