SAA, a restructured National Airline
South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) have been actively participating in the consultation and negotiations processes at SAA and SAE since late last year, 2019. These processes evolved around the rescuing of SAA, a process that culminated to the voluntary appointment of SAA Business Rescue Practitioners, which later resulted to the Business Rescue Practitioners effecting S189A of Labour Relations Act as the absence of effecting the BRPs rescuing plan is said to have resulted to the failure to implement their rescue plan. The state of this entity and Aviation at large was further exacerbated by the COVID – 19 pandemic which grounded of both SAA and SAE and other airlines in general. Currently, the discussions between the BRPs are still continuing facilitated by CCMA whilst the office of the Minister of Public Enterprise, Minister Pravin Gordan is vigorously working 24hrs to present deliverable measures to fund the processes of a new and restructured national airline and consequences of such exercise to the employees. One quantum leap move was for the BRPs to put moratorium on retrenchment process until today, 1st May 2020 as to allow space for the commitment by the Minister, Pravin Gordan at our last week meeting with all Unions organised. The commitment by the Minister was to do his best on seeking funding measures that would cushion the processes of creating a newly restructures national airline and consequences that would come as the result of this process, in particular on the retrenchment package for those to be affected.
SATAWU and other Unions organised at SAA are once again meeting the Minister & BRPs today where 26th April 2020 and SATAWU will re-emphasise its proposed business model which is meant to among others address the following:- A new airline which will present an opportunity to the new airline business on dealing with domestic – regional and international activities, worker opportunities through/based on Cooperative relations as a strategic partner in the new airline, financial model to address the experience of the old order but most importantly, leadership and Exco that will be able to harness the opportunities to be presented by the new national airline business.
It is our view that SAA problems have beset over time, thus a need to underscore the distinct market at play and the new national carrier being considerate on addressing issues of a network, partnering with other airlines and cut – out unnecessary outsourcing services which are detrimental to the new airline meeting its mandatory purpose. If SAA and SAE are to close shop, more than 80% of the jobs will be lost and SAAT and Airchefs will collapse and result in more loss of direct jobs. It is for this reason that we further presented to the Minister two scenarios for consideration, one being a new SAA with SAE & Mango being integrated to the new airline and second SAAT & Airchefs becoming SOCs in their own standing with no link with the new SAA National Airline except providing the required service for the operation of the new airline, and secondary would be incorporate all the four SAA subsidiaries of SAA, i.e: SAE, Mango, SAAT and Airchefs into the new SAA National airline. We believe DPE as the representative of National Government, will be able to consider these proposals, which with no doubts will pay dividends on our quest for OUR VISION for a new and restructures national airline
South African Express
As has been the case with the SAA, SATAWU has been actively participating in the business rescue processes at SAE, which however as happened at SAA fell flat on our faces given the absence of funding from the government. DPE is reported not to have had a convincing business rescue plan from the SAE BPRs, which resulted in cutting – off funding as were seen not delivering the expected outcome. We strongly raised objections both to DPE and SAE BRPs about not being informed about the exactly BRP SAE Business rescue plan, with all those complaints falling into the deaf ears. It is unfortunate to note these challenges resulted in the BRPs applying for SAE Liquidation, with a provisional liquidation judgement which was handed down on the 28th April 2020. It is worrying to note that DPE is said not to have opposed that provisional liquidation application, which we are convenience they may also not opposed the full-scale liquidation on the return date in about two (2) months from now. Whilst we would have wanted to oppose this liquidation, we are consulting with our Lawyers on their advice on the prospects of success if the full-scale liquidation can be lodged. One of the admissible and convincing submissions that we would be required to present at High Court would be the confirmation of financial injections to return the company into its life or Equity partner which would be in a position to present Capital for the Company to return back into its life.
Given the suspicion that the DPE may not oppose the Liquidation, any attempts thereof would possible not deliver our ambition to rescue the company back to its operation. Our Lawyers, however, are working around this arena whilst we are consulting workers (as creditors) as we are now required to make a submission to the Master of the High Court on the nomination for the appointment of the Provisional Liquidator by the Master of the High Court. However, the processes of the appointment of the Provisional liquidator would only be determined by the Master of the High Court building up the return date. SATAWU position has always been that SAE workers should be transferred to the new Airline carrier on, ongoing concern basis, however, the current state of affairs presents challenges which we will only know after the appointment of the provisional liquidator. In the event, the Master of the High Court hand down a full-scale liquidation, our position with the DPE will still stand to be that SAE must be incorporated into the new SAA national airline along with Mango. The actual liquidation of SAE may not take left than 18 months, which would mean if the new SAA national airline comes into being with the incorporation of SAE & Mango into the new SAA, SAE workers thereof would be rescued in the process.
We noted a statement made by NUMSA – SACCA on their call for workers to unite and stand in solidarity with each other in the processes of safeguarding their jobs. We further agree with their statement on their clarion call for SAA & SAX workers to unite. However, we are also not surprised by their call for workers not to listen to any other Unions organised at SAA – SAE, except NUMSA – SACCAA., ordering workers not to listen to many ‘Johnny come late’ and labelled to have suddenly appeared to be their friends. This kind of statement once more as said earlier did not surprise us indeed as SATAWU, given our knowledge of these empty – cannon – fodders who knows nothing than power.
Few things to remind their members, that not being in the reiteration of their statement which showed their political emptiness and immaturity in Trade Unionism, ‘Is NUMSA’s departure from COSATU which never had blessings of the entire membership of NUMSA, his dismal failure during the national elections when he contested state power as a trade unionist – cum – politician through NUMSA membership fees and non – union member’s agency fees, as if not enough, for the sake of popularity, the same saint and his forever on his should, took out the very same SAA employees they claim to be so representing into a strike that never translated to better salary increase post the strike, but came back with their tails right between their legs. Nothing to say about the SACCA so-called President as SACCA is known and as is evidentiary for that matter, their existence is naturally relied upon to NUMSA and would die a natural death with them. It may be advisable for her to always stick on Irvin Jim’s shoulders for the success of SACCA, but hoping they will stop being too close as they seem to be in our eyes, for the sake of complying with the COID – 19 Social distance directives and avoid consequences of defying such a directive
For more details and media interviews contact:
SATAWU Deputy General Secretary: Anele Kiet, contact: 071 021 1903 or Anele@satawu.org.za
SATAWU Aviation National Coordinator: Nelson Lamityi, 076 402 0308 or