We support Solidarity's application for business rescue for SAA - NUMSA/SACCA

Unions express concern at board and govt's belated actions on this matter


5 December 2019

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) together with the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) met with Solidarity earlier today regarding the Business Rescue application of South African Airways (SAA).

NUMSA and SACCA have decided to support Solidarity’s application for Business Rescue. The reason for that is we want to be involved in the business rescue process, so that our plans to save the airline are considered and implemented. What we want is engagement on the turnaround strategy.

Unfortunately, the board and Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) chose not to cooperate in this process, and in their conduct, it was clear that they were plunging the airline deeper into a crisis. They were only concerned with apportioning blame for the strike to us as unions, instead of engaging us on solutions to turnaround the airline. They also continued to frustrate the implementation of the turnaround plan.

As NUMSA and SACCA we sent them a letter earlier in the week (Tuesday) to DPE, and the Presidency warning that failure to support the business rescue application by Solidarity would have dire consequences for the airline, but also, for individual board members as well. We warned that if they did not respond positively to Solidarity’s business rescue application, SAA board members were exposing themselves to personal liability, and were risking a charge of reckless trading. 

We have noted their decision to suddenly undergo voluntary business rescue, after receiving our letter. However, we view their belated attempt at voluntary business rescue as insincere, and an attempt to retain control by the board. And this is why we are concerned. For too long, the actions of government the shareholder and the board and executive management at SAA, has eroded the little trust which existed between workers’ and the Employer. All their actions have been to serve their own narrow interests, and are not to the benefit of SAA or workers in general.

It is for this reason, that we see no other option, except to proceed with Solidarity’s application, as we believe that this process, will be to the benefit of our members and to workers in general at SAA. Furthermore, we have written them an urgent letter, today, requesting that we must be engaged and involved in choosing a competent and independent business rescue practitioner to be appointed to this process to work with the one chosen by DPE.

We have given them until 9am tomorrow (Friday 6th December, 2019) to respond to this request. This is crucial because we cannot have this process being managed and controlled by the very same board and management which is responsible for having plunged the airline into this crisis in the first place. They have proven themselves untrustworthy and they have been an obstacle to rooting out corruption and mismanagement at the airline, and therefore we cannot trust them to act in the interests of all stakeholders at SAA.

Our members embarked on an 8-day strike in order to realize genuine changes in the management of SAA. They sacrificed their salaries in order to secure radical changes which would result in the airline returning to profitability, and long term sustainability. This is why it is crucial that the right person and team of experts be chosen to do this work, otherwise, SAA will continue on the path of destruction.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by NUMSA and SACCA, 6 December 2019