Unions demand board removals at SAA

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Cabin Crew Association have called for members of South African Airways board to be removed, saying they were a barrier to outgoing CEO Vuyani Jarana’s efforts to turn the national carrier around.

Union members picketing on Tuesday afternoon voiced their fears that the SAA board was quietly commencing with plans to privatise the national carrier, which demonstrators said would cost many jobs. The two unions called for Jarana to be reinstated immediately and given the financial support needed to implement his turnaround strategy for SAA.

The unions also demanded that members of the SAA board be removed over misgivings the unions had about their involvement at the national carrier.

Numsa's Twitter account shared video footage of members demonstrating while carrying placard signs which read: "Down with Mgodusu, down with Rothschild, we want Jarana back".

Upon stepping down as CEO of Rothschild & Company's South African unit in March, the investment bank unit’s executive chair Martin Kingston expressed that he was eager for the company to take on the national carrier should the state decide to sell it.

Kingston also serves on the board of SAA. The union believes that Kingston worked with fellow SAA board member Thandeka Mgoduso and other board members to muscle Jarana out of the way at the national carrier.

The joint memorandum demanded that Thandeka Mgoduso, Martin Kingston, Peter Tshisevhe and Geoff Rothschild be removed from the board of SAA.

"During their tenure, they have allowed massive corruption to take place and ignored the damning recommendations made in various forensic reports such as the Ernst and Young and Open Water Report, which Mr Vuyani Jarana was gaining momentum in dealing with," the memorandum read.

The memorandum of demands claimed the board deliberately sabotaged Jarana in order for him to resign.

SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali told Fin24 that the national carrier would not undermine its engagements with the unions by responding to specific questions on the memorandum’s content to the media.

"We received the memoranda today. When we received them, the unions that were submitting them gave us seven days to reflect and get back to them, and provide them with a response to the issues that they raised. What we won’t do is pick and choose issues which we respond to through the media," said Tlali.

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