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Numsa, SACCA call on Ramaphosa to intervene in SAA salary saga

According to unions, the business rescue practitioners are offering workers three months remuneration and a 13th cheque but they'll have to let go of the five remaining months’ worth of salaries.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering the country's economic recovery plan in Parliament on 15 October 2020. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South Africa Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) on Thursday called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the South African Airways (SAA) saga with workers still waiting for salaries that haven't been paid in eight months.

According to unions, the Department of Public Enterprises is offering workers three months' remuneration and a 13th cheque but they will have to let go of the five remaining months’ worth of salaries.

Unions are now threatening to go to court if workers are not paid in full.

ALSO READ: DPE backs SAA’s decision to lock out pilots

Numsa said the business rescue practitioners and the Public Enterprises Department were sidestepping unions and were trying to convince workers individually to take the offer on the table.

Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said workers had been told it was a necessary sacrifice they needed to make to ensure the long-term viability of the airline.

“We condemn Gordhan for his dishonest approach and the shocking and insensitive manner that he has managed this situation. The minister does not care about the sacrifices made by workers and their families.”

Meanwhile, the Public Enterprises Department said a regulating agreement signed with pilots at SAA would render the new airline less attractive to potential partners.

The department said it supported the decision by SAA business rescue practitioners to lock out pilots from Friday.

ALSO READ: SACCA lashes out at dept over finalisation of SAA rescue process

The administrators have given pilots until noon on Friday to agree new employment terms and conditions.

This includes a complete review of salaries and perks which the Public Enterprises Department says will prevent the new airline from getting off the ground.

The department’s Richard Mantu said: “We urge the pilot industry to negotiate in good faith as all workers in SAA have to compromise immensely on salaries and benefits to enable the launch of the new airline.”

SACCA TAKES LEGAL ACTION FOR LOCKOUT

SACCA in the meantime is taking legal advice after the business rescue practitioners sent them a lockout notice warning they would not be allowed back at work on Friday if they failed to sign a new deal.

The association, which represents nearly 400 pilots, said it would not be bullied into signing the agreement which dealt with the conditions of employment for its members.

It calls the changes extremely unfavourable, prejudicial and unfair.

SAA's business rescue plan was approved five months ago and in October Finance Minister Tito Mboweni allocated R10.5 billion to the airline to implement the plan.

The association's president Grant Back said: “SACCA has agreed to the vast majority of the outstanding items except for the unlawful proposals on the retrenchments of pilots based on race. The latest actions by the company, BRPs and supported by the shareholders starve out not only the pilot but employees in order to force them to sign extremely unfavourable conditions and prejudicial terms is grossly unfair and cannot be tolerated.”

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