Home South African Unpaid Numsa members urge Scopa to intervene in SAA saga

Unpaid Numsa members urge Scopa to intervene in SAA saga

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General secretary Irvin Jim said the union wants Scopa to do more to hold the Department of Public Enterprises accountable for SAA’s failure to produce the financial statements needed to prove that the national carrier could not pay salaries.

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NATIONAL Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has turned to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) to help force SAA to produce its financial statements as its members continue to go unpaid.

General secretary Irvin Jim said the union wants Scopa to do more to hold the Department of Public Enterprises accountable for the national carrier’s failure to produce the financial statements needed to prove that SAA could not pay salaries.

The union has long been complaining that management continued to receive salaries while most of the staff were losing their homes and cars, and their children were kicked out of schools, because they could not keep up with payments.

Independent Media recently revealed that over R200 million of taxpayers’ money was wasted on a business rescue process – the business rescue practitioners revealed in court documents that their work was sabotaged by a lack of support from the Department of Public Enterprises and Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Jim said the repeated failure was having a very negative impact on SAA Technical and Airchefs, subsidiaries of SAA. Workers at both these subsidiaries were suffering because of the non-payment of salaries, he said.

“SAA Technical management had initially promised that salaries would be paid by April 1, having failed to pay salaries on March 27. However, as things stand, not a single worker at SAA Technical has been paid. There is no clarity or direction from the executive management about when this will be resolved. Workers have simply been left in limbo and forced to fend for themselves.

“Workers at Airchefs are suffering an even worse fate because they have not received any income since October last year. They have been depending on the government’s Temporary Employee Relief Scheme since March 2020 when the travel ban and the lockdown were implemented.

“They face an uncertain future because the government has outlawed the sale of food on flights, which means Airchefs, as an airline catering company, is unable to generate revenue for an indefinite period of time.

“The UIF has denied them the Covid-19 temporary relief scheme on the basis that they are not on the list of companies identified as requiring relief. We have taken this up with the UIF and have appealed against this decision. We are expecting an outcome from the UIF on April 6.”

Jim said Gordhan told Scopa that funding for SAA Technical and other SAA subsidiaries would come from the National Treasury via the Appropriations Bill, and that it is expecting an amount of R2.7 billion to be disbursed.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores last year workers and their families have been abandoned by the state. Hundreds of thousands of workers suffered during the pandemic either because of non-payment of salaries, further aggravated by the non-payment of the relief scheme, caused by the large-scale looting of UIF officials and corrupt employers.

“We’ve instructed our lawyers to assist our members to recover the money owed to them at SAA.”