South African Airways to offer training for up to 1 000 staff


South African Airways (SAA) will provide a year’s training for up to 1 000 employees, revisions to its restructuring plan show, in a concession to trade unions angered by thousands of looming job cuts.

State-owned SAA’s administrators published a restructuring plan last month after repeated delays and months of wrangling with the government and unions.

Creditors are due to vote on the plan on 14 July, which envisages scaling back SAA’s operations before ramping them up gradually as disruption linked to the coronavirus pandemic eases.

In proposed changes published on Wednesday, SAA’s administrators kept the number of staff needed in the restructured SAA at 1000, from around 4 600 currently.

But instead of laying off 3 600 people, they now suggest roughly 2 600 will lose their jobs and up to 1 000 will be placed on a “training layoff scheme” where SAA will contribute up to 4 650 rand ($270) a month in pension, unemployment and healthcare benefits for each employee.

The public enterprises ministry said those on the training scheme would remain SAA employees but not receive salaries.

If SAA does not need them after the training they will lose their jobs.

The administrators have also delayed by one week until 22 July a deadline for conditions to be met for the restructuring plan to work, including a commitment from the government on funding.

The government has not yet said where it will find the more than 10 billion rand of new funds needed for the plan.

It has alluded to interest from potential partners but has given few details. The finance minister allocated no new money for SAA in an emergency budget.

The government says most unions are ready to accept severance terms if creditors approve the plan.