Employees of the troubled national carrier SAA are demanding to be part of the decision-making structures at the reconfigured airline now expected to emerge from its ruins.
Cosatu affiliate the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) wants SAA staff represented in all of the new airline’s governance and decision-making structures, regardless of the form of ownership.
Satawu warned the government to draw lessons from the “previous” SAA that was looted and collapsed over a number of years, and find a balance between its interests and those of labour and business.
According to the union, the leadership compact forum (LCF), during talks over the business rescue plan, could play a critical role during the implementation, monitoring and evaluation phase of the new airline.
“The presence and influence of labour should not be relegated to the LCF and collective bargaining structures, but should be extended to the level of board of control,” demanded Satawu, adding that it would make submissions during the change management process.
Satawu’s demands follow the government’s appointment of the airline’s chief commercial officer, Phillip Saunders, as acting chief executive, while a new interim SAA board would be announced shortly.
The government has indicated that the business rescue plan, which was backed by 86% of SAA’s creditors on Tuesday, would also be financed through potential equity partners.
Acting public enterprises director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi has undertaken to reveal the government’s preferred strategic equity partners for the new airline as it was now in the process of appointing a transaction adviser.
The National Transport Movement (NTM) wants Saunders to prioritise transformation, improved working conditions, eradicate unfair discrimination, and avoid sporadic consulting companies, job-for-pals and corruption. The NTM said it would be monitoring any sporadic awarding of tenders, which it blames for bringing SAA to its knees.
SAA should focus on expediting the appointment of executive leadership to help build a world-class airline, according to the union.
The support of the plan to save SAA is conditional on the confirmation of the government’s support and commitment to providing the requisite funding.
Business rescue practitioners Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson needed the letter of support from the Department of Public Enterprises with the concurrence of the National Treasury on or before yesterday.
The plan states that should the conditions not be fulfilled by next Wednesday, the plan will be deemed unimplementable and another creditors’ meeting will be convened on July 24 for creditors to consider amending the plan, failing which Dongwana and Matuson will discharge the business rescue process.
The DA expressed its shock at Saunders’ appointment, saying it showed a disdain for the country’s imploding fiscal situation.
EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu described Saunders’ appointment as “intention and determination to deepen white domination very evident under the current administration”.