Union­ists played part in SAA woes

The Citizen (KZN) - - Opinion -

It’s no sur­prise that the unions at South African Air­ways (SAA) are up in arms about the an­nounce­ment this week that the air­line is cut­ting do­mes­tic and over­seas flights to try to save it­self. The unions claim the dire fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion at SAA is some­how due to a plot by ne­far­i­ous groups to force the govern­ment to sell the air­line off.

It does not seem to cross the mind of the union­ists – in the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of SA and the South African Cabin Crew As­so­ci­a­tion – that they, them­selves, have had a large hand in mak­ing SAA’s fi­nan­cial cri­sis even worse.

Air­line spokesper­son Tlali Tlali ad­mit­ted as much in a sur­pris­ingly forthright com­ment.

He said: “We must be sin­cere to our cus­tomers, mem­bers of the pub­lic and the stake­hold­ers, it can­not be that we must come out and deny the fact that the events that took place in the last quar­ter of the last cal­en­dar year have not had an im­pact in­so­far as the brand of the air­line is con­cerned and the de­ci­sion that we have now taken shows that it is not busi­ness as usual.”

SAA and air­line in­dus­try ex­perts warned that the one-week strike called by the unions last year – and which saw an ef­fec­tive tem­po­rary ground­ing of the air­line – would cost R50 mil­lion a day.

So, R350 mil­lion-plus was im­me­di­ately added on to SAA’s al­ready hor­ren­dous debt.

It now needs R2 bil­lion merely to con­tinue op­er­at­ing in its cur­rent busi­ness res­cue mode. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tito Mboweni said of­fi­cials at Trea­sury are work­ing fran­ti­cally to find that money.

It’s got to come from some­where – so, maybe ed­u­ca­tion or health will end up be­ing that lit­tle bit worse off.

Not a bad gift to give to South Africa, you union­ists. And, you might all lose your jobs any­way when SAA fi­nally col­lapses.

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