Mailbox: Employees are not to blame for SAA mess, blame bosses – employee’s plight

In our Daily Insider newsletter, Civil servant fat cats enjoy the cream; entrepreneurs fight to survive, I wrote that government policy protects inefficient, wasteful state entities like Eskom and SAA and provides well-paid jobs-for-pals. This was a point highlighted in the OECD South Africa report, which drew attention to South Africa’s staggeringly high wage bill for civil servants, which amounts to about 12% of Gross Domestic Product. The OECD also criticised South Africa for its support of state-owned entities – also high by world standards. In this letter, an SAA employee* responds to perceptions that the airline’s staff have been a drag on taxpayers. Life has been hard for them, too, he emphasises. – Jackie Cameron

Good morning Jackie,

I hoped you and your family are safe.

I am currently employed by SAA and since May I have not been paid my monthly salary. I have been on unpaid leave. I received my March salary and for April the company used my annual leave to replace my normal working hours (which I am not very happy about). Since May the Company has been paying TER amounts to each employee which comes from the UIF. The amount I have been receiving is less than one quarter of my normal salary. I am due to go on pension later this year and because of the salary situation I have been forced to use money that I had put aside for my retirement to pay my monthly bills.

So unlike the government employees you refer to in your email below me and my colleagues are not unaffected by the current lockdown regulations and Covid-19. What a lot of BizNews article authors and posters seem to forget and/or do not acknowledge is that the situation at SAA and SA Express (SAX) was not caused by each SOE’s employees but by the past Executive Officers (EXCO – with the exception of the last three or four who have tried to turn things around without any support from Government) and Board Members which were all ANC deployees.

Read also: Let’s not kill SAA – let’s chop it up, salvage the good bits: SA airline industry expert

My colleagues and all the people I work with at SAA are hardworking and have been trying to do their bit to improve things at the Company. You will have read from press released that SAA’s BRPs want to drastically reduce the number of the Company’s local employees. This means that most of us will be joining the ranks of the unemployed.

A lot of posters to various BizNews articles as well as various DA MPs say that SAA should be closed down. It is nice to be able to promote for other people to lose their employment when one is still employed. These comments show a complete lack of empathy for their fellow citizens. It is very nice for the DA MPs to push for the closer of the Company when they are still receiving their nice big monthly salaries.

Both the DA MPs and posters seem to forget is that the employees of SAA and SAX pay tax which the Government will not receive once most of the current employees are retrenched. It is doubtful that the posters and DA MPs will be willing and happy to take tax increases to compensate for the taxes lost due to the retrenchments.


  • The writer has clarified his position. He is not a pilot. He works in the administration of SAA. We apologise for the error.
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