Media Statement: Government meets with SAA Unions

Media Statement: Government meets with SAA Unions

21 April 2020 – A team of government leaders and senior officials held a meeting with union leaders about the future of South African Airways SOC Ltd (SAA) this morning via video conference.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, chair of the Interministerial Committee on South African Airways (SOC) Ltd, two members of the IMC, Minister of Labour and Employment, Thulas Nxesi and Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane met with all the trade unions recognised in SAA, including representatives of the non-unionised employees.

In attendance were leaders of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, South African Airways Pilots’ Association, the National Transport Movement, The Aviation Union of Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Cabine Crew Association, and non-unionised staff formation. The meeting was held amidst far-reaching challenges to the air travel industry with the advent of COVID19. The pandemic has had a massive negative impact on the aviation and tourism industry, both globally and in South Africa.

There was consensus that the unions would work with the government to ensure that a new financially viable and competitive airline emerges from the business rescue process; that a consultative forum be established to advance dialogue and consultation on the process ahead; that there will be a sharing of ideas on how best to ensure the wellbeing of employees at this challenging time, and that there must be no dependence on the fiscus;

The Unions agreed that in arriving at a solution for SAA, some jobs will be lost, and that employees that remain behind will need to sacrifice some of the unaffordable arrangements that had worsened the airline’s financial position. It was agreed that social plans will be developed to cushion the effect of losing jobs on the affected employees.

The IMC reiterated the reality that Government is not in a position to provide more capital to SAA, and that all parties need to commit to a creative solution for SAA to avoid a scenario where the business rescue is deemed to have failed.

The SAA Labour Unions were invited to submit their proposals on the restructuring of the national carrier and the future of jobs going forward.

The shareholder undertook to brief the Business Rescue practitioners on this constructive development and encourage the rescue process to take account of the contributions from this process.

It was further agreed that the matter of SAA is urgent as peoples’ livelihoods are at stake. The unions reiterated that people who were instrumental in the damage caused on the airline through corruption and mismanagement should be held to account.