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SAA employees describe the 'nightmare' impact of drawn-out and uncertain rescue process

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According to the proposed structure of SAA, the aim is to retain about 1 000 of the more than 4 000 employees.  (Source: flysaa.com)
According to the proposed structure of SAA, the aim is to retain about 1 000 of the more than 4 000 employees. (Source: flysaa.com)

For almost a year now - since South African Airways went into business rescue - the sword of uncertainty hung - and still hangs - over the heads of its more than 4 000 employees, causing an emotional and financial nightmare.

"I know of a colleague who owned a house and had just a few years left to pay it off, but has now lost it because of not having been able to pay the bond," an SAA employee tells Fin24 on condition of remaining anonymous, though his identity is known. I also know of another colleague who is going through a divorce because of endless fighting created by money troubles due to a lack of income the past few months.

"Emotionally it has been a very draining time for SAA employees. Some of my colleagues must take sleeping tablets at night as they cannot sleep due to worrying about the future. Some have had to 'downgrade' their children's schooling due to not being able to afford the school fees at schools they regarded as offering a higher standard of education."

The employee says it is difficult to know what the future holds for those who either took a voluntary severance package, or stand a chance of being retrenched. The rescue plan foresees that only about 1 000 employees will be retained.

SAA went into business rescue on 5 December 2019. Since then, the public has become familiar with the challenges faced to get the national flag carrier literally off the ground again, despite the recent R10.5 billion allocated by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to implement the restructure plan. About R2.2 billion of this money is supposed to be for severance and retrenchment packages of SAA employees.

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