Cosatu concerned that SAA cost-cutting will lead to jobs bloodbath

Cape Town – Trade union federation Cosatu on Friday expressed concern that cost-cutting measures at national carrier South African Airways (SAA) could lead to job losses.

Matthew Parks, Cosatu’s Parliamentary head, made a submission to the standing committee on appropriations on SAA’s debt restructuring and recapitalisation on Friday.

He was responding to statements by Thabang Motsohi, strategy consultant with extensive aviation experience, who spoke about cost-cutting measures such as restructuring positions.

“This could lead to thousands of jobs at SAA being at risk. It’s easy to say costs are too high and jobs must be cut, but we’re talking about people with families here,” Parks said.

He also took issue with utterances that Telkom is a good example of how a state-owned enterprise has come out of the woods and increased its balance sheet.

“Yes, Telkom’s books look good, but that comes at a cost.” According to Parks, a further 2 000 to 3 000 job losses at Telkom could be on the cards in the near future. “We’re talking here about chucking people to the wolves.”

Parks said it is difficult for Cosatu, which represents two-thirds of workers at the collective bargaining council, to be sympathetic towards government’s difficult fiscal position.

Govt must curb wasteful spend first

“We don’t see any action by government to curb wasteful expenditure. There are no prosecutions amid the daily horror stories for corruption. They fail to stop wastage, yet they plead poverty. It’s really difficult for Cosatu to sympathise.”

Parks said Cosatu is comforted by the fact that government is not considering privatising the airline, but added that SAA can no longer be bailed out while “looting” is taking place on such a large scale.

“But the problems at SAA do not only lie with one individual,” he said. “The corruption is so deep that it is beyond (former SAA chairperson) Dudu Myeni.”

Cosatu therefore calls for a comprehensive forensic investigation – not only into SAA, but also Mango, SA Express and SAA Technical.

Parks also cited other problems and discrepancies at the national carrier, such as nepotism, the theft of engines and doors of aircraft, the under-utilisation of offices overseas and the fact that SAA cabin crew’s uniforms are manufactured overseas.

“Yet we say we are proudly South African?”

He called on government to prosecute transgressors and address the wasteful expenditure at SAA.

“If we don’t do it, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) will soon do it for us,” Parks said. 

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