JOHANNESBURG – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has welcomed the public protector’s decision to investigate maladministration, corruption, and tender irregularities at South Africa Airways (SAA) and threatened strike action if the airline does not implement recommendations made in a forensic report on the matter.
This followed a complaint lodged by the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) after its members were victimised by management for exposing corruption at the airline, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said on Saturday.
“One of our shop stewards at SAA Technical [SAAT] was also suspended after he dared to speak out against corruption in the workplace. Numsa condemns SAA for punishing whistleblowers for exposing corruption at the airline. We will defend our members against victimisation and we are fighting this battle internally with SAAT management,” Jim said.
“Last month Numsa [members] marched to highlight the crisis of corruption at SAA. SAA responded by taking us to the Labour Court in an attempt to interdict our protest. But their attempts backfired because instead of getting an interdict, the Labour Court sided with us on this issue,” he said.
The court ordered SAAT to implement the recommendations of forensic reports stating that senior managers who had been implicated in corruption and tender irregularities had to be disciplined and suspended.
Forensic auditing firm Open Waters completed its investigation into SAAT tender processes in May this year, but the airline was refusing to implement the findings or to make them public. The report named specific managers who breached procurement policy and recommended that they be disciplined and suspended, Jim said.
“Numsa repeats the demand for SAAT to implement the recommendations in the Open Waters report. The airline is in danger of being in contempt of court because they are ignoring a court order. They have no choice but to implement the findings of the Open Water forensic investigations.
“If they do not, we will have no choice but to go on a protected strike. It is clear to us that SAA’s financial problems are because senior managers are looting the airline for their own selfish purposes. If the rumours about downsizing are true then our members risk losing their jobs because of corruption.
“Numsa is fighting for good clean governance in order to ensure a good working environment and also to ensure sustainability of the airline. Numsa and Sacca will be meeting with the minister of finance very soon to raise these issues sharply with him and to call for decisive leadership and action to bring normality to SAA,” Jim said.