Hein Kaiser
Journalist
2 minute read
19 Jul 2021
5:11 am

Workers in bid to save ailing Mango

Hein Kaiser

On Saturday, Mango staff penned a last-ditch attempt at collaborating with the DPE and South African Airways (SAA) board to save Mango.

Staff at Mango have yet to receive June salaries.

A four-day standoff between Mango staff and the department of public enterprises (DPE) may see employees make an urgent application to place Mango in business rescue tomorrow.

Union representatives met with public enterprises director-general Kgathatso Tlhakudi, aviation head Nonny Mashika and a “[Minister Pravin] Gordhan advisor” on Thursday, to seek answers not only about the non-existent June salaries but also Man-go’s likely role in a possible new structure under the Harith and Novick collaboration as Takatso Consortium.

An ultimatum of 5pm, Friday, was given to the DPE to respond – which came and went. On Saturday, Mango staff penned a last-ditch attempt at collaborating with the DPE and South African Airways (SAA) board to save Mango. “We have set a new deadline for Tuesday at 10am,” said Jordan Butler of the Mango Pilots’ Association. “If we hear nothing by then, we will proceed with an urgent application to place Mango in business rescue.”

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He added that Mango staff are passionate about the company and will continue to go to work, even without pay. Last week, The Citizen reported that employees may likely not get paid for July – a second month.“Mango staff who can pay for transport continue to go to work to ensure that the airline is not forced to cease operations,” said Butler.

“The standoff is with the DPE and SAA, and not our loyal passengers without whom we would have never had a successful air-line anyway.” Mango staff spent most of last year propping up the business through voluntary pay cuts. “The situation is very dire for our members who, just a few months ago, were praised by Gordhan for voluntarily sacrificing 50% for their salaries to make sure Mango stays in the air,” said South African Cabin Crew Association president Zazi Nsibanyo-ni-Mugambi.

“Now they have been hung out to dry.”Despite it being gazetted, the DPE has not paid across the R819 million funding package for Mango.“We are in contact with our shareholders to ensure a business plan is sustainable. In our assessment, this should be within a reasonable time,” said SAA spokes-person Vimla Maistry. Last week, the notion of bridging finance from SAA to Mango to cover salaries was mooted.

Maistry confirmed as much with the caveat that it was pending shareholder approval. She also noted last week that “the funds gazetted for SAA subsidiaries totalling R2.7 billion have not yet been paid by the shareholder in order for SAA to recapitalise the subsidiaries”