Former SAA group chief executive Vuyani Jarana. FILE: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Workers at South African Airways on Tuesday called for the immediate reinstatement of former group chief executive Vuyani Jarana and the removal of the whole board.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), together with South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), on Tuesday, picketed at all the country’s major airports to protest against a "myriad of issues" at SAA and SAA Technical.

The unions were picketing against Jarana's resignation; alleged corruption of SAAT management; problems in the maintenance department; allegations of nepotism, tribalism; and alleged corruption of the human resources manager at SAAT; amongst other grievances.

On Friday, SAA announced long-standing executive Zuks Ramasia as the interim group chief executive and Adam Vos as the new CEO of SAA Technical. Ramasia, who was previously general manager for operations at SAA, began her term as CEO on Monday.

In his resignation letter, Jarana cited the airline's mounting debt due to uncertainty about funding and lack of support from government as a shareholder in implementing the airline's long-term turnaround strategy.

In a memorandum of demands, NUMSA and SACCA gave SAA 48 hours to reinstate Jarana and demanded that he be given the necessary support to implement the struggling airline's long-term turnaround strategy.

The unions said that Thandeka Mgoduso, Martin Kingston, Peter Tshisevhe, and Geoff Rothschild should all be removed from the board, accusing them of enabling corruption, failing their oversight role, interfering with operational issues, and ignoring forensic reports which allegedly flagged wrongdoing.

"We demand that the entire board resigns because they have lied to employees in saying that Mr Jarana refused to act for a period of three months. Mr Jarana was willing to serve his three-months notice, and he was pushed out by the board, without any proper handover," they said in a joint statement.

"We are giving SAA 48 hours to rescind their decision to accept Jarana's resignation. Should our demands not be met, we will mobilize our members across SAA and other airlines where we are organized, including suppliers within the value chain and embark on a strike which will shut down aviation as a whole."

African News Agency