Unions agree to give SAA one week to deal with their demands on Jarana

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JOHANNESBURG, June 14 – Workers unions at the South African Airways (SAA) said on Friday the state-owned airline has requested one week to deal with their demands of reinstating Vuyani Jarana as group chief executive and a complete overhaul of the board.

This as the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) on Thursday met the SAA board over the workers’ grievances following Jarana’s resignation two weeks ago.

In a statement, the unions said their key demand is that Jarana must be reinstated immediately for having produced a turnaround strategy which won the support of the government, the board, and the unions.

SAA’s cabin crew members are represented in SACCA while NUMSA members work at SAA Technical and at the airports in South Africa.

They said that though the board had informed the public that it has government’s backing on the turnaround strategy, SAA board chairperson JB Magwaza allegedly told them that there was no funding for the turnaround strategy and no funding capital for the airline.

“The board has requested an extra seven days in order to deal with the demands we have tabled in our memorandums, and we have agreed to grant them extra time,” they said.

“Whilst they deliberate, we will continue to mobilize on the ground in preparation for the possibility of the mother of all strikes in aviation if this board continues to ignore the demand to take the necessary steps to save SAA.”

In his resignation letter, Jarana cited the airline’s mounting debt due to uncertainty about funding and lack of support from the government as a shareholder in implementing the airline’s long-term turnaround strategy.

On Friday last week, SAA announced long-standing executive Zuks Ramasia as the interim group chief executive and Adam Vos as the new CEO of SAA Technical. Ramasia, who was previously general manager for operations at SAA, began her term as CEO on Monday.

Members of the unions picketed and protested at all the country’s major airports to protest against what they called a “myriad of issues” at SAA and SAA Technical.

They initially gave the SAA board 48 hours to rescind their decision to accept Jarana’s resignation and reinstate him with immediate effect. SAA was not immediately available for comment.

– African News Agency (ANA)