NATIONAL NEWS - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has revealed that South African Airways’ (SAA) business rescue practitioners have confirmed that the talks with the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) have taken place “to seek out solutions to alleviating financial challenges to SAA and its employees”.
In a statement released on Wednesday, DA MP Alf Lees said that business rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana confirmed the matter in a letter.
Lees said he had written to Matuson and Dongwana seeking clarity on their intentions to obtain UIF funding to pay retrenched staff packages from SAA.
The DA suggested that the talks between the two companies were out of order and the “UIF should have shown the SAA business rescue practitioners the door”.
“There can be absolutely no special deal between the bankrupt SAA and the UIF in order for the national carrier to get access to the UIF’s coffers. These funds are held by the UIF on behalf of the hard-working employees and employers of South Africa who have diligently put [this money] aside,” said Lees
“If there is a surplus in the UIF, it must be returned to its owners – the employees and employers who contribute to the fund. It cannot be used to bail out a bankrupt SAA and subsidise the maladministration and looting that has taken place due to the actions of ANC-appointed cadres at SAA,” he added.
Lees said that according to Matuson and Dongwana, no agreement has been reached with UIF to make any funds available for the retrenchments of SAA employees at this point.
“These comments do not instil any confidence as it suggests that there may be some sort of an agreement at a later stage,” said Lees.
Lee confirmed that the DA has therefore written a letter to Minister of Labour Thulas Nxesi to request clarity on the discussions that Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana have had with the UIF.
The DA also seeks reassurance from the minister that there will be no raid on the UIF for funds to prop up SAA.
“While we sympathise with the hardworking employees at SAA, we simply cannot condone this clear attempt to gift the collapsed SAA with another bailout by stealth,” Lees concluded.