South African Airways (SAA) on Monday indicated that it planned to get rid of almost a fifth of its workforce through a restructuring process.
This announcement has angered unions as this restructuring will affect over 900 of the airlines 5,149 employees.
Clement Manyathela on the Xolani Gwala Show chats to the state-owned enterprise's interim chief financial officer Deon Fredericks and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.
To put things into context, the airline has had quite a few turnaround strategies and we want to make sure that this strategy works. In June we realised that we are not faring well and we wanted to accelerate the strategy.— Deon Fredericks, Interim chief financial officer - SAA
He says the company's labour costs are 24% of its turnover which is not in line with the international benchmarks.
We have developed our organisational structure and now we need to make sure we put the right structure that is fit for purpose. At this stage, we can't say what the actual number of employees that will be impacted but we want to try and limit the number.— Deon Fredericks, Interim chief financial officer - SAA
He says union have been aware that the company is working on organisational structural design and have been briefed on numerous occasions.
We called a meeting for Monday and none of the unions arrived and then our labour relations person then contacted each union personally to inform them on what we want to discuss.— Deon Fredericks, Interim chief financial officer - SAA
Hlubi-Majola says SAA is not forthright about the restructuring process.
He admits that SAA didn't meet with the unions to discuss this, he says they called for a meeting after 4pm for unions to come and discuss the issue and no one pitched.— Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, Spokesperson - Numsa
She says Fredericks doesn't say that there was a meeting earlier in the day where unions sat with SAA management to discuss wages.
At that meeting, there were no discussions about plans to retrench, we discuss wages, we disagree and we leave. Later in the day, they call another meeting, you then issue a statement to say you consulted, you didn't consult— Phakamile Hlubi-Majola, Spokesperson - Numsa
Listen below to the full conversation: