The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association jointly presented a memorandum to beleaguered State-owned national flag carrier South African Airways (SAA) on Tuesday. The memorandum contained a number of demands. “Should our demands not be met, we will mobilise our members across SAA and other airlines where we are organised, including SAA subsidiaries (Air chefs, Mango, SAA Technical and suppliers within the value chain and embark on a strike which will shut down aviation as a whole,” they stated in their memorandum.
Their first demand is that the former (recently-resigned) SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana “be reinstated with immediate effect”. Furthermore, the SAA board must give him the necessary support, cease obstructing the implementation of the turnaround strategy for the airline, and permit Jarana to execute his 2021 plan. The unions have given the board 48 hours to reinstate Jarana.
Their second demand is that Thandeka Mgoduso, Martin Kingston, Peter Tshisevhe and Geoff Rothschild be dismissed from the board. The unions charge them with having permitted “massive corruption” to have occurred at the airline group and ignoring recommendations made in forensic reports by Ernst and Young and the Open Water Forensic Reports. They also failed to make it clear to the staff why oversight of SAA had been transferred from the Treasury to the Department of Public Enterprises, making it difficult for the airline to access rapid funding.
They particularly cited Mgoduso as an example of the board members who failed to carry out their oversight duties and meddled in operational matters. “This is a clear sign that the board has deliberately sabotaged Jarana in order for him to resign.” They demanded that Mgoduso, Kingston, Tshisevhe and Rothschild resign within seven days.
The unions also asserted that the board had clearly failed to implement its mandate and left then CEO Jarana unsupported in his attempts to implement the SAA Long Term Turnaround Strategy (LTTS), even though it had been adopted by the board (and government, SAA’s shareholder). “When Numsa demanded that the board implement the recommendations made by Open Water Forensic Reports, the board decided to rush to the courts in order to protect corrupt officials across SAA who are their allies.”
Their third demand is that the entire board resigns, “because they have lied to employees” by stating that Jarana had refused to serve out his three-month resignation notice period, when in fact he had been willing to do so. The board had pushed him out, preventing a proper handover, thereby further jeopardizing the airline and its LTTS. “Mr Jarana was determined to root our corruption at the airline and he acted in accordance with the recommendations of the reports by suspending some of the officials implicated in order to save the airline,” says the memorandum.