The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) reported on Thursday that four of the unions representing employees of State-owned national flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) had indicated that they were willing to sign the voluntary severance packages (VSPs) being offered by the DPE to SAA employees. SAA is currently under business rescue.
The unions concerned are the Aviation Union of Southern Africa, the National Transport Movement, Solidarity and the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union. In addition, representatives of SAA’s non-unionised staff have also accepted the proposed VSPs.
However, the VSPs can only be presented to the unions and representatives for signature and implementation after the business rescue plan for SAA is approved by the airline’s creditors on July 14. The DPE has argued that approval of the business rescue plan is necessary to the establishment of an airline that is competitive, sustainable and viable, and that operates domestically, regionally (that is, across Africa) and intercontinentally.
At the previous SAA creditors meeting, on June 25, it was decided to postpone the vote on the then proposed business rescue plan until July 14. The DPE stated that this postponement had put at risk the business rescue plan, 1 000 jobs at SAA, and the benefits contained in the VSPs.
The business rescue practitioners were now expected to present a revised plan on July 7. To pass, the plan would have to win the support of 75% of the voting interests and 50% of the independent voting interests.
In its statement, the DPE attacked those unions which opposed the VSPs. These were the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the South African Cabin Crew Association and the SAA Pilots’ Association.
“The DPE is not [in] a position to accede to any further unreasonable and greedy demands from sections of the union leadership for additional benefits,” asserted the department. “It is important to recognise that the creditors would be keeping a watchful eye on how much money was being spent by SAA as opposed to what they were trying to recover in the business rescue process.”