Some AMG specialists will move to the SAAF


More than 300 aircraft maintenance specialist engineers and technicians who have been ensuring continued airworthiness of many SA Air Force (SAAF) aircraft will be retrenched and about 200 will find themselves in the employ of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans (DoDMV).

All are currently employed by AMG (Aero Manpower Group), a business unit of State-owned defence industry conglomerate Denel.

The retrenchment issue first raised its head last November when it was revealed the SAAF would not be renewing its contract with AMG. The contract was cancelled because it did not meet regulations prescribed in the Public Finance Management Act and prescripts set by National Treasury the SAAF said in a statement. It was apparently renewed without going to open tender.

Exactly how the SAAF will go forward on this critical aspect of keeping aircraft, including some in the VIP squadron, operational was revealed to Parliament’s Select Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) by Defence Secretary Dr Sam Gulube.

According to the Afrikaans daily Beeld he said “less than 200” Denel technicians would be employed by the DoDMV. This was confirmed by trade union Solidarity which has been fighting the retrenchments.

Spokesman Jack Loggenberg said the remaining 300 plus specialist aircraft maintenance men would be retrenched.
“A short term year-long contract has been agreed to, but it is mainly about skills transfer rather than actually doing the work,” he said with regard to those who will move to the SAAF.

Gulube’s statement that the DoDMV and the SAAF was looking to develop its in-house capability in this regard bears out the skills transfer aspect.

He also told Scopa, according to Beeld, an analysis showed not all the 500 plus workers could be classified as having scare and specialist skills and the majority of the 528 affected employees where white and older than 60.
“The Air Force is identifying the scarce skills it needs and estimates are less than 200 people will be taken up by it,” Gulube said.

Deputy SAAF Chief Major General Jerry Malinga is on record as saying the loss of the specialist maintenance knowledge will mean “some serious knocks” for the airborne arm of the SA National Defence Force.

He told an Air Force Day media briefing the end of the AMG contract “doesn’t mean we don’t have anything” regarding maintenance capabilities.
“We need to build up to filling those gaps and I can’t say how long it will take.”

The one year contract is an indication of how the SAAF plans to fill the gaps in its maintenance Loggenberg said.