Johannesburg – A Cosatu affiliate has again pleaded with President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene and save troubled national carrier SA Airways and believes ideological differences are delaying the bid to save the airline.
The SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) has written to Ramaphosa expressing its concerns about his administration’s failure to fund the ailing airline’s business rescue plan.
“The union believes that the revitalisation of the airline is necessary for achieving the ‘new airline’ as outlined in your recent statement on September 16,” reads the letter dated September 18 written by Satawu general-secretary Jack Mazibuko.
He said the immediate implementation of the business rescue plan to save SAA was crucial for realising the country’s socio-economic recovery plan.
According to Mazibuko, Ramaphosa’s administration’s reluctance to provide funding towards the business rescue plan would be detrimental for state-owned enterprises and worsen the existing vulnerabilities of the working class.
He accused the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) and the National Treasury of not sharing a common vision to save SAA and said Ramaphosa’s intervention would help address the ideological and strategic differences between the two departments in this regard.
This is not the first time Satawu has appealed to Ramaphosa to intervene in the SAA crisis.
In January, a month after SAA was placed under business rescue, the union called on Ramaphosa to enter the fray and ensure that the Department of Public Enterprises provided the R2 billion required by business rescue practitioners Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson. Otherwise, SAA would be forced to suspend flights and delay paying the salaries of more than 4 700 employees.
The Department of Public Enterprises has promised that the government will reprioritise funds to restructure SAA and implement the plan to rescue the airline and that an announcement will be made soon.
It assured the country that SAA would not be liquidated and that the restructuring process should be finalised in the next few weeks.
According to the DPE, it is assessing 20 unsolicited expressions of interests from private sector funders, private equity investors and partners who have showed an interest in a future restructured SAA.
It said it was sympathetic to the plight of SAA employees and was working with other government departments including the National Treasury to ensure that the airline’s restructuring plan was successfully implemented and that a credible strategic equity partner with the required technical, financial, and operational expertise was found.