Home South African SA unions reject mass retrenchment proposals at SAA

SA unions reject mass retrenchment proposals at SAA

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NUMSA and SACCA said they had not participated in the process for job cuts at SAA because to date there was no business rescue plan for the airline.

JOHANNESBURG  – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) said they had rejected a retrenchment proposal from the business rescue practitioners at financially-strapped national carrier SAA because they were not consulted.

The government placed SAA under business rescue last December, in a move public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said would allow the troubled airline to continue operating in an orderly and safe manner.

The government rejected SAA’s latest request for R10 billion in additional funding, telling the business rescue practitioners it did not have the resources. Analysts say this leaves very few options other than liquidation and retrenchments open to the airline.

In a joint statement on Sunday evening, NUMSA and SACCA said they had not participated in the process for job cuts at SAA because to date there was no business rescue plan for the airline. They said this was a “dismal failure” on the part of the business rescue practitioners (BRPs).

“We also said that the BRPs have been inappropriately consulting in the development of the business rescue plan with only selected affected persons, to the exclusion of NUMSA and SACCA,” the unions said.

“We are an important stakeholder in this process but we have not been consulted at all on the development of the business rescue plan and instead we are being presented with a purported collective agreement, which is entirely inconsistent with an attempt to save SAA.”

“It is against this backdrop that we outright reject this proposed agreement.”

SACCA and NUMSA said they were currently engaged in talks with the government — the airline’s shareholder — and were of the “firm belief that SAA can be saved and will be saved”.

“We therefore see no need to subject workers to these horrific offers that are being made by one of the BRPs, in the absence of a business rescue plan.,” the unions said, adding that they were alive to the fact that SAA would not survive in its current form.

Last Thursday, South Africa’s cabinet said Gordhan had been asked to prepare an updated report on SAA to submit at its next meeting on Monday.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance has called on SAA’s business rescue practitioners to file for liquidation, arguing that some R50 billion in bailouts ploughed into the airline since 2009 had been a significant loss to taxpayers and the country as a whole.

On the other hand the smaller but militant Economic Freedom Fighters party, which has been critical of Gordhan’s handling of the crisis at SAA and other financially troubled state entities such as power utility Eskom, has accused the public enterprises minister of driving what it called the “deliberate collapse of SAA”.

The carrier’s woes have been worsened by the Covid-19 global pandemic which has virtually grounded air travel in many countries.

– African News Agency