Reborn SAA now facing formidable labour headache
Share this article:
THE NEWLY-resumed SAA airline management got a shake-up from organised labour yesterday with the presentation of grievances, which included salary cuts, lacklustre conditions of service and staff retention.
The South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) picketed at SAA's offices in Kempton Park, Joburg.
This as the airline resumed business late September, which according to analysts had seen a surprisingly good uptake with a load factor, or the passenger numbers, surpassing the target of 60 percent to 75 percent across all routes.
However, yesterday Sacca and Numsa said they were deeply aggrieved about the fact that so many of the old SAA's problems had been carried over into the new airline. Sacca organiser Zazi Sibanyoni said the petition, signed by more than 500 workers, said: “We have a chief executive that is not talking to labour, we have grievances, including unilateral change of shifts and benefits that have been cut off without proper consultations with workers.“
Among the grievances cited were the reinstatement of previous conditions of employment, all employees to be treated the same and benefits, including rebates, jump seating, medical aid allowance, housing allowance to be co-ordinated as well as the finalisation of the retrenchment processes in agreeable terms.
“The mismanagement of SAA continues. The poor are getting poorer at the hands of careless decisions by the executive management. As it stands there is no such thing as ‘team SAA' as its being talked about or advertised,“the unions said in a statement.
Labour said 250 managers and specialists to manage 750 employees at a cost of more than R300 million annually was not fit for purpose for SAA and that the desktop exercise was conducted with managers appointing themselves as they were the ones approving candidates.
“They also appointed their own people who are without qualifications and no experience and left out employees with qualifications and experience,” labour said.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said, “Many of the problems that plagued the old version of the airline had simply been carried over to the new guard.”
“Our members are deeply aggrieved about the fact that so many of the old SAA problems have been carried over to the new airline. As junior employees, we find that all our benefits and allowances (have been) taken away and our salaries almost halved. This then means that we work for nothing while elite managers and specialists benefit,” Hlubi-Majola said. It should be noted that according to Numsa, they have raised these issues with the Department of Public Enterprises, as well as the SAA executive management.
SAA spokesperson Maistry Vimla in a statement said after being in business rescue for more than a year SAA had emerged successfully from the process and was now operational both locally and regionally. “The airline looks forward to 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,” she said.