Covid-19: Cabinet to zoom in on SA's economic recovery plan
Johannesburg - All eyes are on today’s Cabinet meeting where the different clusters are expected to unveil their priorities for the country’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan.
This comes as the country’s economy continues to be battered by the current national regulations, which have seen most sectors suffering economic damage that is likely to severely affect their sustainability and result in some of them shedding jobs.
Last week, acting Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams indicated a consolidated plan on the economic recovery was the subject of consultations with stakeholders before it was made final at today’s meeting and shared with the nation.
Among key reports expected at the meeting is one for the SA Airways (SAA) by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, as the national carrier has indicated its plans to slash jobs after it could not secure its requested R10 billion additional funding from the government.
Gordhan had earlier reject the request by SAA’s business rescue practitioners, indicating they had no other choice but to work with resources already available to them as the government had now redirected its remaining resources to the fight against Covid-19.
Almost 5 000 SAA employees are expected to lose their jobs. Cosatu said it was also waiting to hear from Gordhan on his updated report as he was also expected to brief the ANC-led alliance secretariat on SAA and SA Express.
“We will use this meeting to engage the minister and the government and urge them to explore alternatives to these planned devastating retrenchments by the business rescue practitioners,” Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.
He said Cosatu was concerned by the thousands who were facing retrenchments amid the debilitating financial state of the SAA.
“Behind these numbers are breadwinners, whose ability to provide for their families is being taken away from them. The futures of these families are being destroyed. This is disastrous because it comes at a time when many families are already struggling because of the economic crisis following the outbreak of Covid-19. We simply cannot afford to condemn more workers to the unemployment line,” he said.
Organised business, including Business Leadership SA, and the DA have called for SAA to be partially or fully privatised if it were to survive.
Unions organising within the airline have so far kept quiet on the planned retrenchments as consultations were expected to go ahead if the government does not find a last-minute resolution.
Meanwhile, a group of African pilots on Saturday wrote an open letter to the SAA’s business rescue practitioners, pointing out the planned retrenchments would undermine transformation by the first-in-last-out (Filo) principle as it would lead to many black pilots being fired.
“We are not privy to the restructuring plans but have been put under the impression that the Filo principle will be applied and adhered to. “This, of course, implies that the little progress that has been achieved in transforming the SAA pilot body will be completely erased as most African and designated group pilots form the majority of the bottom part of the seniority list,” the group said.
The group called for the use of the Employment Equity Act to protect them if the retrenchments went ahead.