‘Jarana compromised SAA’: Unions split over airline CEO’s resignation

 SAA Airline
SAA Airline

The National Transport Movement (NTM) is calling on South African Airways (SAA) group chief executive officer Vuyani Jarana to be urgently relieved of his duties after he announced his resignation over the weekend.

The union welcomed and rejoiced Jarana’s resignation from the airline and instead of him serving out his notice they demanded that he be let go immediately.

In a letter addressed to the SAA board, the union accuses Jarana of corruption and gross negligence.

“We place it on record that Mr Jarana financially compromised the SAA by employing more than 150 employees at an annual cost totalling about R3 billion,” read part of the letter.

“We want to draw attention to the fact that the 150 employees are former Vodacom employees where Mr Jarana was employed.”

Speaking to City Press on Wednesday, the general secretary of the NTM, Ephraim Mphahlele, said that Jarana had worsened the financial woes already facing SAA.

“That R3 billion worsened things for SAA. The airline was already facing financial difficulties and that made it worse,” he said.

According to Mphahlele his union had sent the letter to the SAA board on Tuesday.

“We sent it to them on the fourth [of June] but they have yet to acknowledge receipt of the letter,” he said.

Having only released the contents of the letter after Jarana had announced his resignation, Mphahlele said that was because all the information contained in it had only recently come to light.

“We received the information from employees who only spoke to us after he [Jarana] resigned because they were scared to speak out,” he said.

On Wednesday, City Press reported that the biggest metal workers trade union, The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa together with the South African Cabin Crew Association had rejected and refused Jarana’s resignation and had demanded that he be reinstated with immediate effect.

Read:Unions threaten to ground SAA flights if CEO Jarana leaves

The two unions, who in a joint statement lambasted the government for its lack of support for Jarana, which they said led to his resignation, threatened to ground all SAA’s flights if Jarana left the airline.

However the NTM was having none of it and have demanded that the board relieve Jarana of his duties.

“We contend that Mr Jarana should not be allowed to serve his notice but be suspended, investigated and possibly dismissed,” said the union.

Following Jarana’s resignation, the SAA board accepted his resignation with the chairperson of the airline JB Magwaza acknowledging Jarana’s contribution to the state-owned-enterprise.

Magwaza thanked Jarana for his service to the airline, saying he had contributed to returning confidence and credibility to the state-owned carrier.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Mr Jarana for his service and commitment to the airline. He contributed to returning confidence and credibility to the airline. We wish him well in his future endeavours,” Magwaza said.

Speaking about the support Jarana has received from Numsa and Sacca following threats from the two organisations to ground SAA flights if Jarana left, Mphahlele said that it came as no surprise to his union.

“He has had secret meetings with the leadership of those two unions so we knew they would support him. We were expecting it,” he told City Press.

The union which, according to Mphahlele boasts 3000 members, has also put in the spotlight the airline’s routes under Jarana.

They said: “Under Mr Jarana’s leadership SAA refused to reinstate lucrative routes including Mumbay, Atlanta and Cape Town to London.”

Earlier this year City Press reported on testimony given by former parliamentarian Vytjie Mentor at the inquiry into state capture where she revealed how she was offered a ministerial position by the Guptas, provided she tweak the routes flown by the state airline.

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