NEWS & ANALYSIS

Several key issues highlighted at SAA – NUMSA

Union and SACCA met with airline demanding former CEO Vuyani Jarana be reinstated immediately

NUMSA and SACCA meet with SAA board

14 June 2019

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) together with the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) met with the board of SAA yesterday. This meeting was made possible because of the courage and determination of our members who picketed and protested on Tuesday to highlight the crisis at SAA and SAA technical.

During our meeting we highlighted several key issues, which had been the subject of the memorandums which we handed to SAA and SAAT management. Our key demand is that the former CEO Vuyani Jarana must be reinstated immediately. He produced a turnaround strategy, which won the support of government, the board and the unions. If it were not for government withdrawing its financial support and the backing of government guarantees, Jarana would not have resigned. Secondly, his turnaround strategy was not limited to government, but enjoyed private sector funding. At the center of it, without retrenching workers, the strategy had the capacity to turnaround SAA by 2021. We want him to finish the work which he started, because we believe that this strategy can make SAA profitable once again.

The board, through Martin Kingston, has informed the public that it has government’s backing on the turnaround strategy. And yet, when we met with the board, the Chairperson, Mr. Magwaza said there is no funding for the turnaround strategy and no funding capital for the airline. These are two conflicting messages and we demand clarity on this matter because the survival of the airline is at stake. If it is true that SAA has the backing of the shareholder, which is government and Treasury, then we want to understand the details of the nature and form of this support.

We also demand an explanation about the ties to the Rothschild family. The Rothschild’s are interfering the same way that the Gupta family was interfering in SOE’s and they are doing it for their own selfish and greedy purposes. It is clear to us that the agenda here is to collapse SAA in order to privatize it for the benefit of the Rothschilds.

SAA is a strategic state owned asset and we will do everything in our power to save it from privatization. Last year, during the Eskom wage negotiations, NUMSA stumbled across a letter which was written by the very same Martin Kingston for the attention of the GCEO of Eskom, Mr. Phakamani Hadebe. The content of the letter was to advise Eskom GCEO on how the Rothschild’s should be appointed to advise and consult on how privatizing Eskom could be achieved. In essence, the Rothschild’s were writing a specification on how they should be appointed, in a clandestine fashion, in order to privatize Eskom. This is something we regard as befitting the culture of corruption and state capture, to which the champions of the New Dawn present themselves as a breath of fresh air. But quite frankly, immediately after Vuyani Jarana’s resignation, the SAA board meetings swiftly moved to the Rothschild’s offices. Media houses and the champions of the New Dawn are silent like a church mouse on this scandalous, corrupt relationship. If it had been Saxonworld and the Gupta’s, which served a different corrupt class interest, we would have been faced with competing headlines.

The unions remain united in the demand for Thandeka Mgoduso, Martin Kingston and Peter Tshisevhe to resign in the interests of SAA and the South African public as a whole. These three individuals do not have the interests of SAA at heart. They are not interested in a viable SAA. In fact, Thandeka Mgoduso in particular has been interfering in the daily operations of the airline. She has no interest in the profitability of SAA. Her goal is to ensure that it is sold off piece by piece to cronies of the ANC elite, which in this case are the Rothschild’s. In fact, these three constitute a permanent “weak link” within SAA, whose mission and task is to further the aims for wholesale privatization.

The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni acted recklessly as demonstrated when he publicly said that if it was his money, he would not put a cent in the SAA turnaround strategy. Quite frankly, such statements constitute nothing less than to sabotage the genuine effort and contribution that Vuyani Jarana put together to turnaround our SOE.  As unions, we are more than convinced and we demand that these three individuals must resign from the SAA board, as in our view, they are not championing the interests of SAA. In fact, they are in the same WhatsApp group with those in government who think that SAA can be auctioned off for nothing. 

NUMSA and SACCA are making a clarion call to all workers at SAA across all nine provinces, from cleaners to baggage handlers, Air chefs, security, ticket sales check in staff, cabin crew and pilots, to stand together because united we stand and divided we fall. The momentary challenge of every worker at SAA, as there is no life after death, is to stand together and fight to defend the current turnaround strategy and demand that the current three board members who have no interest in the current turnaround strategy must leave the board.  We also demand from government that they must fund the turnaround strategy and give us a new board to support the turnaround strategy.

Key among our demands is that President Cyril Ramaphosa must intervene and engage his ministers. Our position is that Vuyani Jarana must be brought back to execute the current turnaround strategy. NUMSA and SACCA is very clear that we have our backs against the wall. If the current sabotage of the turnaround strategy and Vuyani Jarana succeeds, workers must be under no illusion – the next step is privatization championed by the Rothschild’s, which will double the cost of airfare. Workers will lose their jobs en masse through retrenchments. If after exhausting all avenues of persuading government to support the current turnaround strategy and to bring Jarana back, as unions, we will be left with no option but to embark on an indefinite strike action until our demands are met, and the result will unfortunately ground our national airline.

It is a fact that the problems at SAA have nothing to do with workers. Employees at the airline give of their best every day and they continue to work very hard to give the best service and customer experience. Workers have been leading the charge in exposing corruption and mismanagement at the airline. Some have even been fired for having the guts to expose these unsavory practices. Were it not for their bravery, then those implicated in corruption like Musa Zwane, the former acting CEO of SAA, and Phumeza Nhantsi the former CFO, would never have been exposed. We salute members of the working class.

The board has requested an extra 7 days in order to deal with the demands we have tabled in our memorandums, and we have agreed to grant them extra time. However, they must not take us for granted. Whilst they deliberate, we will continue to mobilize on the ground in preparation for the possibility of the mother of all strikes in aviation if this board continues to ignore the demand to take the necessary steps to #SaveSAA.

Aluta continua!

Issued by NUMSA, 14 June 2019