SA Express, the state-owned airline whose flight routes typically service SA's smaller cities and neighbouring countries, hasn't paid its workers their salaries since 25 March. Workers say they are vulnerable as they cannot afford food or to prepare for Covid-19.
When consumers were panic-buying at supermarkets on 25 March, two days before the start of a three-week Covid-19 lockdown, Grace* couldn't afford to participate in the shopping frenzy or even buy baby formula for her nine-month-old son.
Every month, the 25th is an important day for SA's economy because it has become a standard for when employers pay workers their salaries. And the day is supposed to be liberating as the spending power of workers is restored.
But for Grace, an SA Express worker based in Durban for the past seven years, 25 March meant the beginning of chaos in her life. To date, she hasn't been paid a salary by SA Express, the second state-owned airline that is in the throes of business rescue but on the verge of liquidation.
"I'm not even from Durban and when I didn't receive my salary, I couldn't afford to pay the mortgage or buy formula for my baby. For the entire month...