The public enterprises department says it is unable to accommodate the demands of several unions linked to the South African Airways (SAA) business rescue plan.
In a statement released on Monday evening, the department said it had separate meetings with each union – as well as non-unionised SAA workers – and tabled its restructuring plan in regards to the number of retrenchments it intends to make as well as the Voluntary Severance Packages (VSP).
The department has had separate meetings with:
- the National Transport Movement (NTM);
- the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu);
- the Aviation Union of Southern Africa (Ausa);
- the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa);
- the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca);
- the SAA Pilots’ Association (Saapa); and
- representatives of SAA non-unionised managers and ground staff.
Minister Pravin Gordhan said there was a split in agreement to the terms, with some unions agreeing to the tabled terms while others raised concerns.
“The [department] is not in a position to accede to any further demands from sections of union leadership for additional benefits,” said Gordhan.
“As a shareholder on behalf of government, the [department] has made it clear to all the unions that the R2.2bn budgeted for VSPs is the best that can be made available when government is faced with massive financial demands and constraints in the current financial crisis facing our economy.”
The department met with Numsa, Sacca, and Saapa separately on Friday. Their concerns were centred on the number of people to be retrenched and the value per employee of the proposed VSP.
The department said then that the 1,000 people start-up number and the R2.2bn budget for the VSP had been arrived at with the view to ensuring restructuring results in the formation of a viable, sustainable, competitive airline that provides integrated domestic, regional and international flight services.
“The NTM, Satawu, Ausa, Solidarity and SAA non-unionised staff representatives have made a commitment that they would like to sign the VSPs, which can be offered to employees immediately after the creditors vote on the business rescue plan on Tuesday July 14,” said Gordhan.
“They further said that they support the VSPs, which include: one week calculated per year of completed service, one-month notice pay, accumulated leave paid out, a 13th cheque and a top-up of severance packages calculated on a backdated 5.9% wage increase which was agreed to in November last year.”
Having failed to accept the offer, the department told the unions to convene their own bilateral meetings and find a solution to the future of the airline.
“Employees who take up the VSPs will be entitled to reapply for positions in the new restructured company as it grows,” Gordhan told the unions.