Trade unions shooting themselves in the foot by blocking SAA retrenchments

It is ironic that the trade unions, National Union of Metalworkers (NUM) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), are going to court to try to stop the South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, from retrenching staff.

There is general consensus that SAA is overstaffed by at least 30% and with passengers abandoning SAA in droves the overstaffing is probably much, much higher. There is absolutely no way that SAA can be rescued, if at all, without massive staff retrenchments. Clearly NUM and the SACCA are oblivious to the fact that they are pulling the trigger of a gun directly pointing at their foot. Their action will only add to the woes of SAA and will in all likelihood be a major factor that will drive SAA into liquidation and the loss of all jobs at the airline.

If the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, are serious about the business rescue process for SAA, they will desist from any more taxpayer bailouts for the airline. Sadly, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the very unwise, in fact simply foolish, government guarantees issued to prop up the completely bankrupt and looted SAA.

No doubt the trade unions, NUM and SACCA, are labouring under the impression that the taxpayer bailout honeypot will just continue to pour money into SAA to pay the bloated staff compliment. Given the absurd comments from President Cyril Ramaphosa criticising the SAA Business Rescue Practitioners for their move to cancel unprofitable routes it is not surprising that the trade unions are under the impression that, unlike countless children who go to bed hungry every night, the ANC government will not abandon them and will continue to pay billions of Rands of taxpayer money into the SAA black hole to ensure that they retain their highly paid redundant jobs.