SAA starts dispensing severance packages to crew and staff

More than 3 000 employees have accepted severance packages.

South African Airways (SAA) announced that it would start dispensing the first portions of payments to workers who took voluntary severance packages (VSPs) at the end of August 2020.

More than 3,000 SAA employees have accepted severance packages, while 1,300 are still in negotiations, the administrators said.

SAA business rescue practitioners said the first portion of VSPs to the airline’s management, specialists and pilots would be paid on 19 February, following the first disbursements made to cabin crew members and ground staff employees on 12 February.

Cabin crew and ground staff workers were paid one month’s notice payment, full entitlement of accrued leave, pro rata 13th cheque and the 2019 salary increase of 5.9 percent backpay.

SAA business rescue practitioners said the payment was made after they received a further tranche of R5 billion from the Department of Public Enterprises last week as part of its rescue plan. The rescuers have now received a total of R7.8 billion in financing towards the airline’s business rescue plan.

The rescuers said a total of 82 percent of employees had been paid in terms of the settlement agreement.

National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola confirmed that payment of VSPs were made to those employees who voluntarily applied for them.

Phakamile pointed out that this was not the same as the outstanding claim on salaries, which Numsa and SA Cabin Crew Association members were still owed. “That money is still outstanding. We lost at labour court last week, but we lost the urgent application,” she said. “Our members still have the right to claim and they intend to claim in full once the business rescue process has come to an end.”