PICS: SA Express employees protest at the Union Buildings
South African Express was placed in business rescue in February and suspended its services in March in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
The High Court gave an order on April 28 for the provisional liquidation of the airline which flew to smaller local and regional destinations.
Frustrated pilots, engineers, finance officers and administrators officials from SA Express said they had no choice but to seek the intervention of President Cyril Ramaphosa because the office of Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan has not been much help.
They said they had not been paid in March, April and May, and the company’s liquidation was expected to come into effect this coming Tuesday.
A representative of the workers, Papa Mollo, said to show this was a serious matter, most of the staff in the protest had travelled from areas around Joburg and OR Tambo to join their colleagues from the Tshwane.
Mollo said the airline’s struggles were the result of theft rather than the current situation and that its employees needed to be paid their salary and severance pay to survive.
“This company has been making deductions from our incomes for services like medical aid and UIF, but has not given that money to those relevant companies.
“Right now, we do not have medical aid cover, and all this is happening amid the coronavirus pandemic that is sending people to hospital,” he said.
“We’ve only been relying on the UIF payments for Covid-19 relief given to many other companies. However, if you look at it, that’s all we received,” said Mollo.
He said it was unfair that government had shown willingness to spend around R2 billion to retrench staff at SAA, the other state-operated entity, but did not attempt to do the same thing for its sister company.
SAA was placed in formal restructuring in December, ahead of the global pandemic and its devastating impact on the airline industry.