Numsa and Sacca take aim at SAA, after less than a month back in the skies

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Numsa and Sacca want uniform treatment for employees.
Numsa and Sacca want uniform treatment for employees.
Getty Images
  • Unions are taking a stand against salary cuts of as much as one-third at the embattled SAA.
  • The unions are also demanding that previous conditions of employment before SAA's business rescue process be reinstated.
  • SAA CEO Thomas Kgokolo said all stakeholders were consulted, but labour says it was stonewalled until the picket.

SAA has not been back in the skies for a full month and unions have already staged a protest to pressure the national carrier to honour agreements it inked before the airline's business rescue process.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) are taking a stand against the cut to salaries at the embattled airline by as much as a third, among other issues. They are demanding that previous conditions of employment that were in place before the business rescue process be reinstated.

Numsa and Sacca also want uniform treatment for employees, for example for benefits such as housing allowance and medical aid allowance rebates to be extended to all employees. They also want management to consult labour on structures they say are being unilaterally imposed on employees.

But the national carrier said management had consulted "widely" with staff associations and unions while it was grounded by its continued challenges and the final stages of the business rescue process which concluded in April.

"The airline looks forward to [a] positive and strengthening relationship with Sacca and is always open to constructive dialogue. SAA assures its customers that business continues unhindered and operational schedules are unaffected by this protest," the SAA statement said.

A joint statement by Sacca and Numsa said the two organisations took issue with the re-employment staff who took voluntary severance packages instead of placing employees on the training layoff scheme programme, which it says was agreed on by the Department of Public Enterprises, labour and management.

"Salaries of low-earning employees were downgraded by up to 35%; our medical aid, housing and bonus are taken away, whereas most managers and specialists' salaries were increased.

"[The SAA is] benchmarking low-earning employees to Mango salaries while specialists and managers are benchmarked to general market[-related packages] to maintain high salaries and increase packages," the joint statement said.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola told Fin24 that SAA interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo never gave labour an opportunity to express its grievances to him directly before the two unions embarked on the picket.

"We reject with contempt the lies stated by the CEO when he said that he met and engaged with unions. He has not. We even had a meeting yesterday where we told him to his face that the reason why members have been forced into picketing is precisely because they have not been engaging [with] us," said Hlubi-Majola.

Hlubi-Majola said the issues behind the petition had been raised for weeks before the picket, but that management stonewalled unions and referred their concerns and demands to the human resources department.

"The nerve of them to come to us at the eleventh hour in an attempt to prevent us from picketing is just disgraceful. Why do they wait until members are so angry that they want to picket to engage us? We reject it," Hlubi-Majola said.

The joint statement said the sacrifices made to get to grips with SAA's finances internally were one-sided, with low-level employees paying with large portions of their salaries "whilst other elite managers and specialists benefit from this restructuring". 

Get the biggest business stories emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Fin24 front page.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Facebook is facing a fresh crisis after a former employee turned whistle-blower leaked internal company research . Do you still use Facebook?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, the benefits outweigh the risk for me
23% - 159 votes
No, I have deleted it
47% - 328 votes
Yes, but I am considering deleting it
30% - 205 votes