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Future uncertain for CAAB workers

MPHO MOKWAPE
A significant number of workers at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAB) have been unable to access loans at banks for a year now as the restructuring which has led to some workers’ salaries being down graded seems to have no end.

Worried workers are even contemplating a strike to force management to speed up the rationalisation exercise to minimise the uncertainty.

In April this year, the organisation announced a restructuring process resulting in some positions in the new structure being downgraded, while others have been upgraded.

Last Friday, Monitor met with the CAAB workers who expressed dissatisfaction about the restructuring exercise that has reportedly affected them in many ways.

The workers accused the company of spending a lot of money at the Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) while the rest were left in limbo and their payments having been downgraded due to their rationalisation exercise.

They told Monitor that the company decided to restructure simply because they wanted to reduce CAAB workers’ salaries just  to pay the ATC who  demanded better pay, threatening to quit for greener pastures.

The workers said management has failed to address them on several occasions when they needed clarity regarding certain issues such as back pays, access to loans at banks and when the restructuring exercise would be completed.

A workers’ representative who preferred anonymity said the restructuring exercise has affected them negatively, adding that since early this year, the company sent a directive order to banks not to lend them any money.

“Its been almost a year now that we cannot even get loans from banks since the company has halted that process for us and yet we are left in the dark as to how long the exercise would drag on.

He said they have sought answers, to no avail, and that they are contemplating strike action as a last resort having failed to get answers even from the  office of the President

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and the ministry responsible.

Meanwhile, speaking with CAAB Public Affairs Manager, Modipe Nkwe said the company is not aware of a looming strike that the disgruntled workers are thinking of undertaking.

However, Nkwe confirmed that CAAB was going through a restructuring exercise with the possibility of job losses when the exercise was complete. He said he was not certain of how many job losses are anticipated currently as the exercise was still on going.

“It is true that CAAB is going through a restructuring exercise.

There is a possibility of job losses when the exercise is complete and as the exercise is ongoing, we are yet to establish how many job losses there will be, if any”, he said.

He further said it is not true that Air Traffic Controllers whom were reported to have threatened the management with better job offers from outside the country prompted the restructuring exercise.

Nkwe said there is no way the ATC forced the company to restructure in order to increase their salaries adding that instead it was undertaken as back as 2010.

“The restructuring exercise started way back when the Authority engaged Delloitte Touche and Tsa Badiri Consultancies. “It is also not true that they are getting allowances time and again,” he said.

He further said staff has been briefed about the exercise and some of the implications thereof. He said the banks were the ones that took the precaution of suspending  loans until the exercise was over.

“Staff has been kept informed about the current restructuring. The latest was a countrywide tour to all stations last month. Management was accompanied by Workers Union during these briefings”, he said.



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