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Dire times: SAA staff tell of struggles making ends meet without salaries

Last year, over 3,000 workers accepted voluntary severance packages as part of the airline's business rescue plan. But those who stayed with the airline said that they had not received salaries since May last year.

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

JOHANNESBURG – Employees at the South African Airways (SAA) who have been affected by the airline's restructuring have detailed how they struggled to make ends meet without salaries to pay their bills.

The airline has been under business rescue since December 2019.

Last year, over 3,000 workers accepted voluntary severance packages as part of the airline's business rescue plan.

Some, who remained at the struggling airline, said that they have not received salaries for months.

“It took me over 20 years to get to where I am, and my career has been ruined purely because of bad management and theft. I was lucky that I flew in July, I did one of the repatriation flights, so I got a portion of my salary then and that was the last time I got my salary. I would say 90% of the guys didn’t get a salary since May,” said one pilot.

Another pilot, who is a single mother, said it had been tough.

“It’s something that I chose to do, and it's something that I love. I still see myself doing what I love every day, I miss it. You’re either staying, or you’re going, and people stayed because they were hopeful and because they love what they do.”

Meanwhile, the South African Cabin Crew Association's Zazi Sibanyoni-Mugambi said that the situation was dire for many.

“The last year has been a nightmare. Cabin crew have not received salaries at SAA since May. Workers were then offered this three-month salary, but they had no real alternative but to accept because at that time they had not been paid and houses and cars were being repossessed.”

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