Cosatu warns against using workers’ funds as a ‘blank cheque bail-out’ for SAA
Government should not consider using the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) to bail out South African Airways (SAA) until the airline is investment worthy and able to yield a return on workers’ investments, Cosatu said in Parliament on Friday.
The federation made a presentation to the standing committee on appropriations, which is considering the bail-out provided to the bankrupt state-owned airline in the medium-term budget policy statement in October.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that SAA would get another R4.8bn bail-out this financial year in addition to the R5.2bn received earlier this year.
Cosatu parliamentary liaison officer Matthew Parks told MPs that SAA was "clearly not" investment worthy at this stage.
"Government needs to complete the overhaul of the executive and management boards and structure," he said. A thorough forensic investigation of SAA was needed, along with that of its subsidiaries Mango and SAA Technical. Those who had run SAA into the ground "through rampant looting" should be prosecuted.
"Cosatu would not agree to a blank cheque bail-out from the PIC or state to SAA. There has to be a cleanup of management at all levels. This needs to include a comprehensive forensic audit. Once this has happened, then SAA can apply to the PIC to invest in SAA. Cosatu would support this on the basis of building a capacitated state, developing the economy and protecting jobs. The PIC would have to be represented on the SAA’s board."
Parks said Cosatu did not support the collapse of SAA nor its privatisation.
"Cosatu wants to make it very clear to government that the PIC is not a slush fund. It is not there to balance the budget. It is not there for deficit funding. It is not a kitty for cash-strapped ministries. It is not a bail-out fund for state-owned enterprises that have been run into the ground by corrupt leaders.
"These funds are public servants’ deferred wages. They are workers unemployment insurance taxes. They are workers’ compensation funds. They are to take care of workers when they have retired, left their jobs or been injured on duty," Parks said.