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Unions at SAA outline their strategy for new national carrier

SAA’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) have been given 25 days to produce a business rescue plan for the beleaguered airline.

Numsa and South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) members picket at the SAA Airways Park in Kempton Park on 15 November 2019. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Trade unions at South African Airways (SAA) have formulated a strategic plan that outlines what they believe a new national carrier should look like.

SAA’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs) have been given 25 days to produce a business rescue plan for the beleaguered airline.

They have submitted a proposal to terminate contracts after government refused to pump any more cash into the ailing airline.

But the Labour Court ruled last week that the retrenchment process should be halted.

Last week, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) rejected the BRPs’ draft plan, saying they should focus on saving the airline.

The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa), the South African Airways Pilots' Association (Saapa), and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) said that they had considered the pressure on the public purse, especially during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said: "Our plan is prudent and it’s designed to make SAA commercially viable and financially self-sufficient. It will be disastrous for South Africa’s economy if we are unable to provide vital airlift and connectivity when Africa and the world emerge from the current COVID-19 crisis."

Hlubi-Majola said that the unions had also drawn up a list of demands.

"A forensic audit and a PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] investigation of all expenditure since the appointment of the BRPs. The immediate cessation of the BRPs’ legal challenges and maximisation of consulting and legal fees. And if they are not willing to categorically support the vision of the new national airline, they must resign and the withdrawal of their legal advisors," she said.