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Unions decry lack of consultation on SAA

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Metal workers union, NUMSA and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) have raised concerns over a lack of consultation by the Department of Public Enterprises.

Both unions have called on the department to engage with labour. This comes after Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, announced plans to radically restructure South African Airways (SAA).

The dominant unions at SAA, NUMSA and SACCA have responded to a statement issued by the department of Public Enterprises.

Both unions say they reject notion that the week-long strike is responsible for the national carriers deteriorating financial position.

NUMSA says SAA management knew, from as early as June 2019, that the airline wouldn’t have enough money for operations and to pay salaries.

While SACCA on the other hand has called for South African Airways to begin a process of rooting out corruption at management level – saying it is crucial for the survival of the national carrier.

SACCA president, Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, however, claims that the SAA leadership may be protecting corrupt elements.

“Someone needs to commit to the fact that they are going to deal with corruption. We have a measure in place, which is the task team that can hone into these issues. We had a restructuring officer from the UK at 6 million a month and did absolutely nothing. We believe SAA is still corrupt. With corrupt management and leadership, where are we really going? That needs to be dealt with. There seems to be a protection of certain corrupt forces which we don’t take lightly to. Who are going to be on the firing line – our members.”

The unions say they heard about the Minister’s plans to restructure SAA in the media.

In the Statement Minister Pravin Gordhan said the process would help ensure the national carrier’s financial and operational sustainability.

But, the move was met with scepticism.

While the Public Enterprises Ministry is adamant there is no other way to improve the state of the national carrier, unions disagree and say the restructuring process should deal with the airline’s procurement.

Political parties welcome SAA radical restructuring

Some of the political parties in Parliament have welcomed the announcement by Public Enterprises Minister that SAA will soon embark on a radical restructuring.

The DA says SAA needs more than just restructuring, as it has done that for so many years in the past. The party’s spokesperson on Public Enterprises Ghaleb Cachalia says, “Sell this to somebody else if they are willing to buy it. We may have to pay them to take it. The other is to put into business rescue and the other is to close is down. At a cost of R20 billion, there are no other situations other than this.”

The ACDP Chief Whip, Steve Swart and FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels also welcomed the proposed restructuring.

“In our view the answer lies in reducing the running expenses and that includes reducing bloated workforce and possible breaking it up. SA Express is not necessary; Air Chef is something one can look at.

UDM Chief Whip Nqabayomzo Kwankwa and Public Enterprises chairperson Khaya Magaxa concur.

“Any mechanism currently that could resolve that problem so that SAA can go back to a profitable company that is able to sustain itself will be welcome. I understand that tomorrow there will be a cabinet which will look at how this form of restructuring will take place,” adds the chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises Khaya Magaxa.

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