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A Bleak May Day for Africa’s Airline Workers

With SAA downed by debt and revenue loss, the discussion has moved on to finding about R2.2-billion for severance packages — and possibly a new airline emerging from the state-owned airline’s ashes. Airlines around the world have been hit hard by travel restrictions put in place to contain the spread of Covid-19. SAA’s planes have been grounded since March 27, with the exception of cargo and repatriation flights in and out of the country, and with no revenue is struggling to meet its financial obligations. After months of back-and-forth discussions, the first indications that SAA’s wings would be clipped soon came through Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, when he told reporters during a briefing last week that a new airline would be built from the “ashes of SAA” as part of the country’s “new economy” post-coronavirus. The National Transport Movement said it will work towards ensuring that SAA employees are first in line for jobs at the new airline when it is established. Two options emerged from Wednesday’s talks, including a R2.2-billion severance package for employees in line with the provisions of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Under this package workers will get one week’s severance pay, notice pay, leave pay and a pro rata 13th cheque. The second option offered to workers amounts to about R3.1-billion where workers will get two weeks severance pay, notice pay, leave pay and a pro rata 13th cheque