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4 unions' buy-in means just a vote for SAA's business rescue plan is left

SAA's business rescue plan published last month proposed that over 3,000 workers at SAA be retrenched.

Picture: 123rf.

JOHANNESBURG - The Public Enterprises Department on Thursday welcomed the decision of four South African Airways (SAA) unions to sign voluntary severance packages as a positive step in the process to restructure the ailing airline.

The move comes after the department warned that liquidating the state-owned enterprise would lead to financial difficulties for employees.

SAA's business rescue process has been protracted and contentious, with legal challenges from unions and business rescue practitioners. The business rescue plan published last month proposed that over 3,000 workers at SAA be retrenched.

The Public Enterprises Department said it was now waiting for the vote on the business rescue plan. The signing for the packages would also only happen when the creditors voted on the business rescue plan, scheduled for 14 July.

A vote in favour of the plan would mean business rescue practitioners can begin winding down the business, including signing voluntary severance packages .

For this, a 75% majority is needed. Otherwise, liquidation is the only option, and it could be a long and costly road with no guarantee that workers would receive any money.

The department's Deputy Director-General Melanchton Makobe said: “This is a positive step by the unions as the business rescue practitioners would be tabling the revised business rescue plan. The department calls upon the unions and creditors to support the revised business rescue plan."

The National Transport Movement, South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, the Aviation Union of Southern Africa, Solidarity and non-unionised staff are the ones interested in voluntary severance packages.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the SA Cabin Crew Association and the airline's Pilots Association have not accepted the offer to take the voluntary severance packages.

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