Gordhan urges unions to accept packages ahead of SAA business rescue vote

  • The Department of Public Enterprises said unions at South African Airways and representatives of non-unionised staff indicated an intention to sign voluntary severance package agreements. 
  • The department urged the NUMSA, SACCA and SAAPA to hold their own bilateral meetings.
  • The statement stressed that the R2.2 billion budgeted for voluntary severance packages was the best package of resources available.


The Department of Public Enterprises said four unions at South African Airways and representatives of non-unionised staff at the national carrier indicated an intention to sign voluntary severance package agreements after creditors meet for the vote on the airline’s business rescue plan.

The Pravin Gordhan-led department released a statement on Monday evening, following separate meetings it held with organised labour at the airline. The meetings were held to discuss options for employees ahead of next week Tuesday’s vote on the business rescue plan for SAA.  

Unions that expressed an intention to sign voluntary severance packages were the National Transport Movement (NTM), South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Aviation Union of Southern Africa (AUSA) and Solidarity.

“They further said that they support the VSPs, which include one week calculated per year of completed service, one-month notice pay, accumulated leave paid out, a thirteenth cheque and a top-up of severance packages calculated on a back-dated 5.9% wage increase which was agreed to in November last year,” the statement said.

The department urged the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) and the SAA Pilots Association (Saapa) to hold their own bilateral meetings with members on the matter.

Numsa and Sacca have threatened legal action, should a decision be taken to liquidate the national carrier.

The two unions’ threat came just days after National Treasury, in a briefing to Parliament, presented a slide presentation to a parliamentary committee stating that SAA did not require further bailouts as it was insolvent.

The department stressed that the R2.2 billion budgeted for voluntary severance packages was the best package of resources available, as government faced “massive financial demands and constraints in the current financial crisis facing the economy”.

The department met with Numsa, Sacca, and Saapa separately on Friday where the unions raised concerns about the number of people to be retrenched and the value per employee of the proposed voluntary severance package.

“The department emphasised that the 1000 people start up number and the R2.2 billion budget for the VSP were arrived at with the view to ensuring restructuring results in the formation of a viable, sustainable, competitive airline that provides integrated domestic, regional and international flight services,” the statement said.