Trade union Solidarity, on Tuesday said that an opinion poll conducted among 110 employees of South African Airways Technical (SAAT) showed that more than 90% of employees wanted to resign, and that morale among these employees was low.

Solidarity said it had made an appeal to SAAT to seek a solution to the low morale of its employees, as it could lead to an exodus of skilled employees and have an effect on airline safety.

The trade union said 82% of these employees were technicians, while 80% had worked for the company for between 15 and 20 years, and that they had scarce skills and experience to offer.

The airline’s spokesperson was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Engineering News Online on Tuesday afternoon.

Solidarity added that it was dissatisfied with SAAT after the company had allegedly appointed 20 British aviation technicians on a contract basis for an indefinite period and at much higher salary rates than those paid to local technicians, who the union said, were still being paid below international salary standards.

“The 20 experts who have been imported because of the shortage of skilled technicians by SAAT are paid between £22 and £30 an hour (between about R340 and R470 an hour),” commented Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans.

He added that SAAT also paid the transport and hotel accommodation of these employees.

Kleynhans said that SAAT lost about R1,6-million in the form of training investment for each technician that was attracted abroad.

“South African aviation technicians are still attracted abroad by large salaries as local salaries are not internationally competitive, but foreign technicians are imported at high salaries to resolve the skills crisis here. The employees are extremely displeased with the salary structures of the foreign experts and some are even threatening industrial action,” Kleyhans stated.