Former SAA employee pleads for severance payment as settlement is delayed

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the funding that the rescue practitioners have received for the voluntary severance packages is inadequate to make the full payment.
the funding that the rescue practitioners have received for the voluntary severance packages is inadequate to make the full payment.
Silas Stein/picture alliance via Getty Images
  • Former SAA employees who opted to take a voluntary severance package are still waiting to get paid.
  • One such former employee has written an open letter to the airline to plead for the money.
  • According to the rescue practitioners, they had to opt for the current arrangement to at least get some money to those affected.

The more than 3 000 former employees of South African Airways (SAA) who opted to accept voluntary severance packages will have to wait until at least 19 February to receive the full amounts agreed on.

This has left some them disgruntled by the manner in which SAA and its business rescue practitioners have handled the matter.

"We are frustrated and have had enough of this runaround that SAA has been giving us. Our lives are in a detrimental state, yet our rights are continuing being undermined," one former employee, whose identity is known to Fin24 but who wants to remain anonymous, wrote to the airline on Friday. 

The desperate former employee penned the open letter to SAA in reaction to communication from the rescue practitioners, dated Thursday, and seen by Fin24, to inform former employees who opted for the voluntary severance package that a tranche of funding has been received by SAA in order to make the payment of the voluntary severance packages to all ground staff and cabin crew employees who have already exited from the company through this process. These payments exclude management and specialists. It also excludes the members of the SAA Pilots' Association who have been locked out since 18 December 2020.

The voluntary severance payments to ground staff and cabin crew will be made in two parts, the one on 12 February and the other on 19 February, if a tax directive has been received from the SA Revenue Service.  

Full funding not received

"At present, we have not received the full funding for this portion of the payment and have requested the shortfall from the Department of Public Enterprises," the rescue practitioners wrote to the former employees. According to the disgruntled former employee's open letter, the agreed date of payment was supposed to have been 31 January.

"We as employees have been struggling to say the least. Some of us have lost their houses, cars, some even had to move back to their parents' houses without even a single cent to contribute to the daily living. Our livelihoods are dependent on receiving this voluntary severance package, which is rightfully owed to us," writes the former employee. 

SAA joint rescue practitioner Siviwe Dongwana told Fin24 on Friday afternoon that they have been working tirelessly to ensure that the employees' payments occur as soon as practically possible. To this end, the rescue practitioners have separated the payments of employees into two tranches and by so doing advanced the date when they will receive payment.

"If [the rescue practitioners] make the payments in one tranche, then the voluntary severance payments will be delayed by the receipt of the tax directive for all employees and instead of receiving [part of the] payment on 12 February 2021, the payments will be effected on 19 February 2021," explains Dongwana.

"Clearly this [one-tranche payment approach will not be] in the interests of employees. A further reason is that the funding the rescue practitioners received for the voluntary severance packages is inadequate to make the full payment. We have written to the Department of Public Enterprises to request the outstanding funding so that we can make full payment."

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