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COSATU Today  |  Affiliates Press Statements

SATAWU disappointed at SA Express failure to consult on job cuts

5 April 2019

South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) is disappointed to read that state-owned airline, SA Express, intends to downsize its staff.

According to an article in City Press, the regional airline’s board has approved a plan by acting CEO Siza Mzimela to cut jobs. Mzimela is said to have made a presentation to a board committee arguing that the ratio of 822 employees to 10 aircraft is an indication the airline is overstaffed. The founder of the now defunct airline, Fly Blue Crane, explained she was aiming for a staff to aircraft ratio of 25; SA Express is currently sitting at 56.

As a union representing workers at the airline, SATAWU is disappointed we had to read about the plan to cut jobs in the media. When we met Mzimela and another member of the task team charged with reviving the airline after it was grounded last May, we were assured retrenchment was not on the cards and we would be advised were the situation to change.

News of the grounding of SA Express’ 22 aircraft was well publicised. Mzimela reportedly told the board committee the airline would be operating 15 aircraft by end April; that raises the question - what has happened to the other seven aircraft?

By targeting workers instead of ensuring the remaining seven aircraft are compliant with South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) safety standards, Mzimela is picking low-hanging fruit. This tends to happen with managers who lack ideas and are overwhelmed by the task at hand. Moreover, deciding to downsize the staff compliment without consulting social partners to explore alternatives is an indictment on management. It demonstrates a lack of understanding of the importance of strategic social partners.

SATAWU will request a meeting with SA Express to discuss this latest development. As far as retrenchment is concerned, we will address it as a labour relations matter because that is precisely what it is.

For more details and media interviews contact:
Jack Mazibuko, SATAWU General Secretary, 082 660 4703, 082 951 1181
Anele Kiet, SATAWU Deputy General Secretary, 073 684 1912, 071 021 1903
Zanele Sabela, SATAWU Media Officer, 011 403 2077, 079 287 5788, zanele@satawu.org.za