About 2,700 SAA workers to lose jobs as retrenchment package deal reached

About 2,700 SAA workers will lose their jobs as part of a voluntary severance deal, according to the public enterprises department.
About 2,700 SAA workers will lose their jobs as part of a voluntary severance deal, according to the public enterprises department.
Image: Business Day

About 2,700 SA Airways employees will lose their jobs, the department of public enterprises said on Tuesday night.

In a statement at about 11pm, the department said that all labour unions, except those representing pilots, had accepted a voluntary severance package deal.

The department said the retrenchment packages "will be supported by a social plan and skills development programme" for those who lost their jobs.

In total, the severance packages are valued at about R2.277bn. According to figures provided, the pilots account for the biggest chunk of the total retrenchment costs.

"In terms of today’s agreement, 1,000 SAA employees will be retained. Around 2,700 SAA employees will be retrenched and will be able access the VSPs [voluntary service packages] as soon as a business rescue plan for SAA is endorsed by a creditors vote," the department said in a statement.

That vote is scheduled for a week's time.

This comes after a Labour Consultative Forum (LCF) meeting on Tuesday, where the unions agreed that "they had no objection to SAA/DPE offering individual employees a Voluntary Severance Package as proposed by the [department]”.

However, the department said the position of the SAA Pilots Association "remains unclear at this stage".

The department said the severance packages were supported by the National Transport Movement (NTM), the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA), Solidarity, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) and representatives of SAA non-unionised managers and ground staff.

"The [department] appreciates the level of commitment and cooperation from these unions and staff representatives to accept fair and reasonable severance packages in the interest of their members, at a time when the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are causing thousands of job losses in the global aviation industry," the statement read.

According to the department, the business rescue practitioners have scheduled a creditors meeting for Tuesday July 14 to vote on the business rescue plan.

"The [department] believes that the VSPs [voluntary severance packages] and a positive vote to finalise the business rescue process would be the most expeditious option for the national carrier to restructure its affairs, its business, debts and other liabilities, resulting in the emergence of a new viable, sustainable,competitive airline that provides integrated domestic, regional and international flight services," the statement read.

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