MEDIA STATEMENT BY SACAA 26 January 2022 Johannesburg – The South African Civil Aviation Authority…
The South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), The Mango Pilots Association (MPA) and the National Union of Metalworkers South Africa (NUMSA) will file an urgent application with the South Gauteng High court to place the airline under business rescue. We have been forced to take this extraordinary measure as a result of the desperate situation which our members and all employees at Mango find themselves in. Workers at Mango have been working without any pay for more than two months. The airline has not been capitalized by the Department of Public Enterprises, despite promises having been made by government and the shareholder, that once the Appropriations bill is passed, Mango and other SAA subsidiaries will receive operating capital. But this has not happened. As a result of the delay from DPE, a liquidation application has been filed by one of Mango’s creditors, Aergen Four Aircraft and Aergen Five Aircraft LTD.
In a move to save the company, our members precious livelihoods and in an attempt to salvage what we can from this situation, we have approached the courts to place Mango Airlines SOC into business rescue and to appoint Ralph Lutchman from Concord Administrators (Pty) LTD, as the business rescue practitioner. We have served papers on all stakeholders over the weekend and an urgent application at the South Gauteng High court will be filed today to place Mango under business rescue. We have no choice as workers at Mango, but to unite and to fight with a common vision to save jobs and to fight for the survival of another state-owned entity, an asset ultimately owned by the citizens of South Africa, an asset that is being destroyed by the Department of Public Enterprise. We have noted the announcement made by SAA that it intends to do the same, however, they are merely saying that. They have taken no decisive action to place the airline under business rescue. They were prompted by our attorneys who served them with papers over the weekend.
Today marks a landmark day in South African history where unions fight for jobs and the survival of a state asset. A time distinguished by the juxtaposition of SAA V2 that is not operational but still employing approximately 1000 staff who are being paid a full salary, and Mango, whose employees have continually sacrificed for 16months to ensure the continued operation of the company and who are now working on IOUs.
We have written numerous emails and attempted to engage the DPE at but our attempts to get clarity on the future of Mango have been met with silence. Both the Mango and the SAA boards have recommended that the airline be placed under business rescue. Their recommendations have been tabled before DPE for DPE to act.
In an attempt by the DPE to maintain control on the situation, the unions were advised that the DPE had finally agreed to business rescue at 21:30 on Thursday night. It was requested by the SAA board that we stay our application until 1700 on Friday when further clarity was promised by the SAA board. Unfortunately, neither Mango, SAA or the DPE could provide any clarity or timelines on the way forward by 1700 on Friday and have requested further time extensions.
Workers at Mango were told that once National Treasury approves funding for SAA business rescue then an amount of R2.7 billion would be allocated to subsidiaries. Of that, R819 million is due to Mango. The Special Appropriation Act (No:44775), dealing with Mango’s funding requirements, was published in the government gazette on the 28th of June, which cleared the way for R819 million to be allocated to the alleviation of Mango’s current financial predicament, but that money has yet to be paid out. Meanwhile the situation for workers at Mango continues to be dire and worsening by the day.
The DPE’s actions to date, appear to suggest there are ulterior motives are at play. Mango has continued to operate at the continued insistence of minister Pravin Gordhan since June 2020, yet the DPE seems to be quite happy to allow the hard-working employees of Mango to subsidize this decision through the provision of their services for little or no renumeration. “They have greatly misrepresented the promise of funding to Mango management, employees, services providers and creditors. What this means legally will have to be investigated” says Jordan Butler, MPA Chairman
In addition to the last 2 months unpaid salaries, employees on average, are already owed 6 month’s salaries from the company. Salary that the company has undertaken to pay back to employees in a CCMA settlement agreement! Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, SACCA president says “With each passing day it becomes more difficult for employees to get to work as their personal financial circumstances become more dire. Is it DPE’s goal to have Mango staff rack up personal debt to fund the state-owned company? Clearly that seems to be the case.”
Since July 2020, SACCA the MPA and NUMSA, as well as non-unionized staff, have continuously written to the Board of Mango, the board of SAA and the minister of Public Enterprises. All these efforts have been rebuffed. Most notably, Minister Gordhan’s office has often failed to even acknowledge receipt of our communication let alone provide a response. The SAA board did respond but only in so far as passing the buck back to Mango management to deal with our requests for information. What is frustrating, is that it is information that the Mango Exco and board are not privy to.
Out of sheer frustration and in the face of the utter futility in seeking information from the organs of state responsible for their constitutionally mandated task of overseeing the welfare of Mango Airlines as well as their fiduciary duties towards the company, the MPA, SACCA, NUMSA and other unions as well as non-unionized staff wrote to the President Ramaphosa on the 7th of July to plead with him to intervene and hold Minister Gordhan to account for his department’s total disregard and dereliction of duty at Mango Airlines and its employees. Should the approved funding not be forthcoming, the DPE will stand accused of not only misleading the Management and employees of Mango Airlines but also the airlines’ customers, creditors and suppliers, who have also stuck with the airline through these trying times.
Workers at Mango have taken a conscious decision to unite and fight by any means available to them, against the state capture that seems to have permeated down from SAA to Mango, to ensure as many jobs as possible can be saved. It is estimated that as many as 10 000 people, both directly and indirectly depend on Mango Airlines for income. Mango is a successful structure! It appears that government will see it dismantled in favour of their new Takatso consortium and private industry that would provide at most, one tenth of the jobs. Jobs that have yet to be created. This is in addition to the 3000 direct jobs that have already been lost at SAA in the last 18months and the estimated 1200 jobs that will be lost in the coming months at SAA Technical.
Unions have repeatedly offered a joint business rescue process with the shareholder in order to expedite the process and allow funding to flow for much needed salaries. “This offer still remains” say the joint unions. “It is imperative for transparency, that we work side by side in this process so as to ensure the successful outcome for all parties concerned” says Jordan. “We have done all the groundwork and covered all the expenses. All that remains is for the shareholder to get onboard.” Says Zazi.
It must be noted that discussions are still on going with the shareholder this morning to hopefully reach a consensus and get staff paid.
It is expected that the urgent application to place Mango under business rescue will be heard on the 3rd of August 2021.
Photo credit: Nel Botha
Issued by SACCA, MPA and NUMSA by:
Captain Jordan Butler
NUMSA General Secretary
For more information, please contact:
NUMSA National Spokesperson
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