Ramaphosa slams SAA cuts

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Chi­som Jen­nif­fer Okoye

Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa yes­ter­day slammed the cut­ting of South African Air­ways routes, say­ing there had been no con­sul­ta­tion on the mat­ter.

Just be­fore he hopped onto his flight to the African Union (AU) Sum­mit in Ad­dis Abba, Ethiopia, he said a min­is­ter would make a fur­ther state­ment about the re­cent announceme­nt by the res­cue prac­ti­tion­ers.

“We are not in agree­ment with what the res­cue prac­ti­tion­ers have come up with that do­mes­tic flights should be can­celled,” Ramaphosa said on TV.

“We want to find out what the ra­tio­nale is and we want to have a dis­cus­sion with them be­cause SAA is not only a great sym­bol for the coun­try but it is also an eco­nomic en­abler, it en­ables peo­ple to move around the coun­try and we would like SAA to re­main a ro­bust and suc­cess­ful air­line.

“That is why we took the de­ci­sion not to close SAA, but to en­sure it is re­vamped, is re­sus­ci­tated and it starts op­er­at­ing pos­i­tively.”

Ramaphosa’s state­ment came af­ter the state-owned air­line’s joint Busi­ness Res­cue Prac­ti­tion­ers (BRPs) com­pris­ing Les Ma­tu­son and Siviwe Dong­wana an­nounced on Thurs­day their de­ci­sion to cut down on all do­mes­tic routes, with the ex­cep­tion of the route be­tween Jo­han­nes­burg and Cape Town, on 29 Fe­bru­ary.

They also said apart from the do­mes­tic routes, 11 re­gional and in­ter­na­tional routes will also be can­celled at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

Unim­pressed with this move were the work­ers unions af­fil­i­ated to SAA, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Union of Me­tal­work­ers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew As­so­ci­a­tion (Sacca) who is­sued a joint state­ment con­demn­ing the “un­law­ful” and “un­fair” re­trench­ments that were ex­pected to fol­low suit.

Numsa spokesper­son Phakamile Hlubi-Ma­jola said nei­ther union was con­sulted about the de­ci­sion be­fore­hand, which was a pre­req­ui­site of the Labour Re­la­tions Act.

“In­stead of con­sul­ta­tion, labour was merely in­formed of this de­ci­sion and its dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences in re­spect of job losses. The BRPs even had the au­dac­ity to re­lease the press state­ment an­nounc­ing their de­ci­sion, while we were still in the meet­ing dis­cussing de­tails,” said Hlubi-Ma­jola.

She said many is­sues within the em­bat­tled air­line had not been ad­dressed, in­clud­ing cor­rupt con­tracts not be­ing suspended and man­age­ment of­fi­cials still op­er­at­ing de­spite cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions “to the fur­ther detri­ment of SAA”.

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