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Strike the only way to make SAA listen to grievances, say unions

Three thousand workers belonging to Numsa and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are expected to embark on a strike over wages and job cuts on Friday.

South African Airways planes. Picture: Facebook.com

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - The National Union of Mineworkers of South Africa (Numsa) on Wednesday said National Treasury must continue to fund the struggling South African Airways (SAA).

Numsa's general secretary Irvin Jim said it was unacceptable that workers stood to lose their jobs because of mismanagement at the airline.

SAA announced that it planned to retrench more than 900 workers.

Numsa has called on all SAA workers to join the strike on Friday.

Numsa said the cash-strapped utility could not be allowed to fail because it was an important state-owned enterprise that employed thousands of people.

The union said government had a duty to continue funding the struggling national carrier.

Jim said corruption and mismanagement was the reason that SAA was struggling.

“We want all workers, in fact, we’re grounding on Friday. That airline must not move, workers must down tools and we’re calling on the South African public to understand that we cannot continue to allow this government to do as it wishes. We’ve kept quiet for too long.”

Three thousand workers belonging to Numsa and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) are expected to embark on a strike over wages and job cuts.

The unions said this was the only way to make SAA management listen to their grievances.

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has informed SAA it had failed to comply with the law by failing to submit annual financial statements for two consecutive years.

The airline's board and management briefed Scopa on Wednesday about its finances and reasons for not submitting financial statements.

The committee said it did not accept the assertion by SAA that it was not prepared to shoulder risks associated with a disclaimed audit opinion from the Auditor-General (AG).

The airline said this was the reason why it had refused to table annual financial statements.

SAA said the AG’s office had agreed to withdraw its audit team until the SOE resolved its going concern status.

But committee member Alf Lees was not impressed: “You’re simply doing it on the basis of the word of someone or a letter or something, which has no legal standing. It cannot override the PFMA (Public Funds Management Act). It simply can’t.”

SAA has also briefed Members of Parliament on the negative impact of a planned strike this coming Friday which could ground the airline.

SAA acting chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso: "We have received a notification of strike from Numsa and SACCA and that’s the cabin crew and once there is no cabin crew in the aircraft, then it can’t take off."