JOHANNESBURG – The battle over retrenchments at the South African Airways (SAA) is far from over as the application to interdict retrenchments at SAA will be heard at the Labour Court in Johannesburg today.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) have filed an urgent application asking the court to declare unlawful the Section 189 notices issued in March by the airline’s business rescue practitioners (BRPs).
In a joint statement, the unions accused the BRPs of not acting in the interests of workers and not engaging them meaningfully in the process.
SAA workers unions have previously rejected the collective agreement for mass retrenchments of 4 700 workers at the airline.
The collective retrenchment agreement stated that workers must agree to terminate their employment with effect from 30 April 2020 in exchange for a retrenchment packages.
“What is suspicious about the proposed collective agreement is that no asset lists let alone valuations of these assets are provided to support the promise to pay retrenchment packages out of the sale of unencumbered assets,” the unions said.
“Also, the payment of any retrenchment package is subject to substantial conditions and lengthy delays. According to the proposed collective agreement, the best case scenario if everything goes according to the BRPs’ plan, is that retrenched workers will be paid in 30 months’ time.”
This is as Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan announced yesterday that the BRPs have said all flights, repatriations or otherwise, would be halted tomorrow.
Gordhan said that R5.5 billion had been made available to SAA’s BRPs and spent over the past five months.
He called on the BRPs not to engage in any firesale of the airline’s assets and said there should be no liquidation when in fact there were many alternatives that could be pursued.
By Siphelele Dludla