COSATU statement on the SAA planned retrenchments

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply disturbed by the announcement that about 1000 South African Airways employees are likely to be retrenched as part of the company’s restructuring. We are disturbed by the reckless way that the airline is handling its restructuring process because unions have not been consulted and briefed about it.

This poor management of processes is the reason why the airline is in such dire straits.

The fact that they are already talking about a number of jobs that will be affected without talking to the workers and their unions is a sign of disrespect and undermine the spirit of the Labour Relations Act which compels employers to look for alternatives to retrenchments and to engage with workers in meaningful and not predetermined tick box consultation. Behind the numbers that they are throwing around are families whose future will be destroyed.

We support the efforts to rescue these ailing SOE but we are not going to allow workers to be retrenched and victimised while the decision-makers are not paying any price for their failures. The exorbitantly corrupt packages that continue to be paid to senior managers, while they are continuing to retrench workers, must also go.

The Federation will not allow workers to be dismissed to protect the perks of the bosses and to compensate for looting and corruption. All SOE’s need to explain to workers what is being done to recover the looted monies and who is being prosecuted for the corruption.

Even situations where retrenchments might be unavoidable, the federation has been calling for retrenchments with a human face. People need to be eased out of employment with some semblance of dignity, including re-skilling them for life after their employment. Despite many companies receiving tax credits for training, they are not interested in re-skilling workers.

The Department of Labour has put aside money for this very purpose to reskill workers and help them find alternative work.COSATU is calling upon the President and Minister for Public Enterprises to urgently intervene.  

We will not solve our unemployment bloodbath by throwing more workers into unemployment. Workers voted for the ANC to create and not cut jobs. Alternatives must be found, and this includes reskilling and redeploying workers within the public sector. Government equally must stop dilly-dallying and come with a coherent turnaround plan to save SAA and return it the profitable state it once had before the looters were allowed to run amok.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794