Corruption and mismanagement at ‘new’ SAA condemned – NUMSA and SACCA

Phakamile Hlubi-Majola |

04 March 2022

Organisations say ordinary workers are paying the price for continued incompetence

NUMSA and SACCA condemn corruption and mismanagement at ‘new’ SAA

1 March 2022

Members of the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) at SAA picketed at the offices of the Department of Public Enterprises(DPE). Our members have been provoked into protesting because of the continuation of corruption and mismanagement at SAA. And, what is worse, it is ordinary workers who keep paying the price.

The latest onslaught against workers is the looming dismissals of 225 workers who were on the Training Lay Off scheme. The scheme was in place for a year and the expectation was that workers would be absorbed into the airline on a permanent basis. But due to mismanagement, workers are unable to be placed, and they face an uncertain future. SAA issued a communication yesterday claiming that TLS failed because of the following reasons:

1. The CCMA was unable to provide a stipend which were being paid by SAA.

2. TETA was unable to commence with training


3. SAA has not been able to use most of the employees on the program. (Only 32 workers were appointed on a contract basis, the rest will have to be let go).

We wish to set the record straight and correct the narrative. Firstly, SAA is not telling the whole story. CCMA was unable to provide a stipend because the condition for any entity to receive financial support from CCMA on TLS is that audited financial statements are needed. SAA has not provided financial statements for three consecutive years which makes the board delinquent! And there have been no consequences for those tasked with this crucial responsibility, this includes the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), the board and the executive management. It is shocking that Minister Pravin Gordhan has been let off the hook by SCOPA for failing to ensure that SAA provides audited financial statements. How do we know that the looting has stopped? As long as there are no financial statements it means there is no way of know that the airlines resources are not being looted.

Secondly, NUMSA and SACCA met with TETA executives and negotiated training for workers. TETA set aside funds to provide training for free and it was going to manage the entire process. But SAA wanted TETA to pay money to it directly so that it could provide the training, but the TETA refused. TETA wanted to manage the process and pay service providers. The funding was conditional on TETA doing the training, but SAA refused to cooperate. SAA wanted to control the process and that is why the entire project collapsed. TETA did not require financial statements, it only needed the date base of employees. The training would have benefitted workers and upskilled them. It would have given training not just for aviation, but in other sectors as well. We suspect SAA wanted to abuse the funds and that is why the project collapsed. Clearly the new SAA is still being mismanaged, so what has changed? We condemn the management of SAA for deliberately mismanaging the TLS process which has resulted in even more job losses!

After more than 3000 jobs were shed last year as part of restructuring, those who remain lost their benefits and conditions of employment. Workers salary packages were cut by 35% and benefits like medical aid, meal, and housing allowances as well as pension fund were taken away. But the packages that management and specialists receive are generous and they have not made any sacrifices. We are told that the managers and specialists salaries are benchmarked against international airlines, whilst the packages for workers were bench marked against Mango. This ensured that managers earn very generous packages at the expense of ordinary workers. Furthermore, the new conditions were not negotiated fairly but were imposed onto ordinary workers.