Airchefs staff have been waiting for salaries for a year - Numsa
Johannesburg - The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has hit out at state owned enterprises for “corruption and mismanagement” of funds.
This comes after it emerged that workers at SA Airways (SAA) subsidiary company, Airchefs, has been without pay since March last year.
The union alleges that the workers have been depending on the Temporary Employee Relief scheme (Ters) since then and that the last time they received a Ters payment was for October.
It is reported that the culinary company has been struggling to make ends meet since the SAA was placed under business rescue in December 2019.
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said there was an expectation that once SAA took off, its subsidiaries would also be able to recover, but that had not happened.
“The business rescue process was completely mismanaged by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and it has dragged on for much longer than normal, over a year, in fact… This has caused immense suffering for employees who have been unable to support themselves financially.
“These are men and women who performed their jobs with passion and now they have been left bitterly disappointed by the government and the shareholders. This has been made worse because DPE misled Airchefs management by claiming that money from the business rescue plan would be made available for them, which is not true.”
Jim said there had been no allocation of funding for subsidiaries of SAA. “Even though we raised this directly with the minister last year… that subsidiaries like Airchefs, Mango and SAAT needed to be catered for, Pravin Gordhan ignored our proposal.”
Jim said the DPE was ducking and diving.
The union revealed that it had since spoken to the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) for employees at Airchefs to be placed on the training lay-off scheme, which allows companies that are in financial distress to apply for relief from paying salaries.
“Workers are placed on training for a period of six months and 75% of their salaries are paid by the SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) while they train on a full-time basis. This takes the financial burden off the company. It allows employees to earn an income while training full time and obtaining or upgrading their current skills.”
Numsa said that one of the conditions for being placed on the scheme was that an organisation must have updated financial statements.
“The last time SAA produced financial statements was for the 2016/2017 financial year… The alternative is that the company must produce management accounts which are independently verified so that it can claim,” said Jim.