Corruption and mismanagement at ‘new’ SAA condemned – NUMSA and SACCA – POLITICS | Politicsweb
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.
We handed over a memorandum of demands to raise these and other issues such as:
1. Ongoing corruption in the human resources department which led to NUMSA and SACCA members not being placed in available positions, whilst management employ their lackeys who took Voluntary Severance Packages. We are questioning the entire recruitment process for some of these placements because some of these management and specialist positions, were given to people who are not suitably qualified, and this is why we are demanding an investigation for every single employee who was placed at the company. We want to know that all the placements followed proper HR protocol and that those who were appointed have the qualifications to back it up. We demand that the results of such an investigation must also be made public. SAA management is opposed to such an investigation being publicized.
2. We also demand an investigation into the HR department for re-appointing people who accepted Voluntary Severance Packages (VSP’s). Accepting a VSP means you have signed away your rights and you may not come back but some of these managers were brought back to SAA. The VSP’s were funded through tax payer money. If you are re-employed at SAA after taking the VSP, this is a form of corruption.
3. It makes no sense that there are 103 managers and 122 specialists managing 700 staff. This is an example of bloated management who are benefitting whilst ordinary workers are suffering on low pay and forced to work without benefits. The business rescue process has only reduced benefits and conditions of ordinary workers, but it promoted management. The current acting General Manager of HR who has been deployed by the DPE, has failed dismally to implement and execute what was agreed upon at the collective community that involved the DPE as part of the Labour Consultative Forum. We demand that the conditions and benefits which workers had before section 189, are re-instated!
4. South African Airways and South African Airways Technical have obstructively refused to disclose details of the Takatso deal. As labour we have every right to know absolutely everything about the terms and conditions of the deal because it affects our members. DPE as shareholder is not co-operating and the entire deal is shrouded in mystery. We are now forced to proceed to private arbitration in order to resolve this dispute and gain access to information on the deal. This is a state owned entity. It is very clear to us that there continues to be ongoing corruption at SAA especially because of the refusal by DPE to disclose any details regarding the Takatso deal. How can it be that a national airline can be sold, without any money exchanging hands? This is massive corruption led by Minister Pravin Gordhan. Why should we have to fight to get answers on this transaction when it is a publicly owned entity? That is why corruption has become the norm. We demand full disclosure on the Takatso deal.
Our members are justifiably angry because they made huge sacrifices for the restructuring of SAA. Even now, they are suffering but there are no consequences for the minister, or for the board or the executive management which has destroyed this SOE. Workers continue to be casualties as a result of corruption at SAA. We keep being told about state capture of SOE’s under the Zuma era, but it is very clear to us that corruption is still rampant under this Ramaphosa administration.
We have handed a memorandum of demands to the minister and we demand a detailed response on the way forward on all these issues.
The struggle continues!
Issued by Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, National Spokesperson, NUMSA, 1 March 2022