The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) have noted that the South Gauteng High Court has agreed to postpone the final liquidation order for SA Express. The airline was placed under provisional liquidation last April and today was the day the liquidation order was to be made final. The court has extended the date for the final liquidation hearing to the 29th of April 2021. We support the decision to postpone liquidation because we believe very strongly that if the airline was to be liquidated, that would have disastrous consequences for workers and their families’.
At the same time, we are mindful that next month on the 6th of February is the one-year anniversary of the day that SA Express was placed under Business Rescue by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE). From the time that this happened, workers have not received a salary, and they have been in limbo since that day. Even if they quit and take voluntary severance packages (VSP’s), there is no certainty on when or even if they will receive this money. Last year DPE promised that it would source funding for VSP’s for employees at SA Express, just like it did for SAA but the shareholder has failed to live up to this promise as well. No pension fund or medical aid contributions have been made in the last 10 months, which means they have had to fend for themselves through this pandemic.
Workers at SA Express have suffered so much. Many of them have lost everything including homes, cars, and other assets. The new school year has begun but some cannot even take their children to school or pay for their daily expenses. These are men and women who loved their work and they performed their duties with passion and pride, and they demonstrated commitment to their jobs. But they have been treated worse than dogs by the employer and the DPE. DPE is completely deaf to the cries of employees and has made absolutely no plans to help support them through their struggles. Their selfless dedication and passion for their work, means nothing to this government. There is no shame from the ANC government for the way that it has treated workers at state owned entities.
We believe that SA Express can be saved, it is a viable business and it played a meaningful role in the aviation sector. Even under these covid-19 conditions SA Express could play a meaningful role in tourism just as it did in the past, by providing low cost airfare options to support the sector and encourage internal domestic travel and small business. It provides a good network to feed other carriers into smaller towns. There is no reason why it cannot continue to exist. SA Express is not dying because of Covid-19. It is deliberately being destroyed by an uncaring government and shareholder, which has failed to act to root out decades of corruption, and mismanagement.