Next 48 hours crucial to save SAA and SAX — and thousands of jobs: unions

SA Express was placed under provisional liquidation in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday after its business rescue practitioners argued that it had no prospect of survival.
SA Express was placed under provisional liquidation in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday after its business rescue practitioners argued that it had no prospect of survival.
Image: SAA

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) said the next 48 hours would be crucial in the bid to save struggling airlines SAA and SA Express.

The unions said they met public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan on Tuesday in a last-ditch attempt to save the airlines and the jobs of workers.

SA Express (SAX) was placed under provisional liquidation in the South Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.

The unions said they had raised this with Gordhan. “We are satisfied that there is a commitment from government to work together with Numsa and Sacca (and other unions) in earnest to find a sustainable solution to the challenges facing SAX before the return date in the first week of June 2020 when the court will decide as to whether SAX will be placed in final liquidation.

“We also raised with the minister the fact that we are fully committed to ensuring that both SAA and SAX are restructured, and in this regard, that government should consider the capitalisation of both institutions if we are to get out of the crisis.”

The unions said it was their mission to save the jobs of workers.

They called on staff not to sign retrenchment agreements.

“Not only will workers voluntarily put themselves out of employment with no guarantee of any reasonable package, but signing will assist those who are intent on destroying SAA and strip its assets to the detriment of all South Africans,” they said in a statement.  

“We want to assure workers and our members that we will spare no moment in furthering their interests and address their fears under the current difficult and overwhelming conditions.

“During the next 48 hours, various further engagements will continue between labour and government on a technical and legal basis to find an appropriate solution which will be capable of constituting a constructive input towards the finalisation of a business rescue plan capable of adoption by all stakeholders,” the statement read.

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