Desperate SA Express workers yesterday pleaded with the government to pay them their three months of outstanding salaries.  Photo : Nicholas Rama
Desperate SA Express workers yesterday pleaded with the government to pay them their three months of outstanding salaries. Photo : Nicholas Rama

SA Express staff in plea to government for outstanding salaries

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Jun 3, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Desperate SA Express workers yesterday pleaded with the government to pay them their three months of outstanding salaries and severance packages before the airline’s provisional liquidation was made final next week.

SA Express pilot Captain Willem van der Merwe said it was unfair for the government to show willingness to spend around R2 billion to retrench excess staff at South African Airways (SAA), but make no attempt at doing the same at the sister company.

SAA business rescuers have proposed that the government inject R2bn working capital to restart the troubled airline, another R2bn to cover the cost of retrenchments and R600million to pay general concurrent creditors.

Van der Merwe, who has been with SA Express for 19 years, pleaded with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan in a letter yesterday.

He confirmed the contents of the letter on the phone with Business Report.

“We just want to be treated fairly, decently and with respect. The government is telling companies to look after their staff during Covid-19 pandemic, but it is not doing the same to us,” Van der Merwe said.

In April, the high court in Johannesburg granted an order for the provisional liquidation of state-owned SA Express after it was placed under business rescue in February.

If the provisional liquidation remains unchallenged, a final liquidation order will be granted next week on Tuesday and the contracts of 691 SA Express employees will lapse within 72 hours.

SA Express employees have not been paid their salaries for March, April and May and have had to rely on the unemployment insurance fund temporary relief funds for survival.

Van der Merwe said he and many of his colleagues had been applying for posts all over the world, doing manual jobs for minimum wages and selling personal items just to survive.

He said they would be lucky to receive anything above R32000 as their total severance package as SA Express debts were totalling more than R700 million.

BUSINESS REPORT 

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