SAA retrenchment threat 'nothing but a scare tactic': unions

SAA says it has consulted 5,146 employees regarding possible retrenchments but unions say no such consultation process has taken place. File photo.
SAA says it has consulted 5,146 employees regarding possible retrenchments but unions say no such consultation process has taken place. File photo.
Image: SAA

The announcement by the South African Airways (SAA) of looming retrenchments was a veiled threat to get workers to drop their demands for wage increases and for the removal of the SAA board.

Two unions have described SAA's statement about looming retrenchments as a veiled threat designed to make workers drop their wage-increase demands.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) spoke out on Tuesday after an announcement by the airline on Monday that  it had told 5,146 employees it was embarking on a restructuring process that could lead to job losses.

The unions condemned the airline for revealing its intention to restructure and retrench workers through a media statement. They questioned an announcement by acting group CEO Zuks Ramasia that the airline had commenced a consultation process with staff in line with section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

“We can state categorically for the record that no such consultation process ever took place," the unions said in a statement.  “We were informed through a media statement of their intentions. We have been engaging with SAA management on wage talks and the last meeting took place on Monday."

The unions said their demands were on the table, but claimed the airline was unwilling to consider their demands, citing a lack of money.

“Pilots at SAA recently received a 5.9% wage increase because of an agreement they have signed with SAA. But our demands for an increase for 8% have been denied.”

The unions said this was why they were questioning the timing of SAA's announcement.

“It is a veiled threat to get workers to drop their demands for wage increases and for the removal of the SAA board. They want to strike fear into the hearts of our members. We condemn the management with the contempt they deserve.”

The National Transport Movement earlier accused the airline of "abandoning" ordinary workers.

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