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Workers’ Unions claim South African Airways’ retrenchment talks as scare tactics

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Workers’ unions for the cash-strapped South African Airways dismissed the flag carrier’s intention to fire 1 000 staffers from its payroll.

On Monday, 11 November 2019, the state-owned SAA announced that it intended to dismiss 1 000 workers from its payroll due to a restructuring exercise, using a media statement.

On Tuesday, 12 November 2019, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association condemned this, saying the airline’s intention to restructure and retrench workers as announced through the media was an effort to discourage them from the negotiation table.

The unions also expressed surprise to read in the SAA press statement that acting group Chief Executive, Zuks Ramasia, had commenced a consultation process with staff on the restructuring.

“We can state categorically for the record that no such consultation process ever took place. We were only informed of this through the Monday media statement of their intentions.

“We have been engaging with SAA management on wage talks and the last meeting took place on Monday, the same day they issued the statement,” the unions’ statement said.

In the statement, the SAA said that it had told its 5 146 employees that it was embarking on a restructuring process that could lead to job losses. The unions have denied this.

“It (dismissal of 1 000 workers) is a veiled threat to get workers to drop their demands for wage increases and for the removal of the SAA board. They want to strike fear into the hearts of our members. We condemn the management with the contempt they deserve,” the two unions said.

– APA

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