Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Labour Court dismisses SAA pilots’ application for leave to appeal with costs

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Mar 4, 2021

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South African Airways (SAA) pilots have been dealt a blow after the Labour Appeals Court dismissed with costs their urgent application for leave to appeal their ongoing lockout.

In a judgment penned by Judge Andre van Niekerk yesterday (WED), the Labour Appeals Court dismissed SAA Pilots Association’s (Saapa) application for leave to appeal the December 2020 judgment.

In December, the airline’s pilots union brought an urgent application in the Labour Court to have a lockout of its members declared unlawful and unprotected.

SAA business rescue practitioners have locked out hundreds of Saapa members since 18 December over disagreement about the proposed termination of the Regulating Agreement.

The Labour Court, however, ruled that the lock-out of SAA pilots was lawful and protected in terms of the Labour Relations Act.

The pilots union wants SAA to retain the Regulating Agreement which will see them receiving handsome voluntary severance packages (VSPs) to incentivise senior pilots.

However, SAA is offering just around R1.9 million on VSPs for pilots.

In the judgment, van Niekerk said that Saapa had not presented a convincing argument that the Labour Appeal Court would come to a conclusion different to that reached by the Labour Court.

SAA rescuer Siviwe Dongwana said this ruling further supported their views that the unions were abusing the court process.

Dongwana, however, said they were hopeful that a settlement can be reached between SAA and Saapa, and bring to an end the lawful lock-out of their members.

He said a speedy settlement was in the best interests of the majority of Saapa members.

“We remain committed to finding each other with Saapa as we did with other affected parties in arriving at a compromise of amounts owing to them,” Dongwana said.

“It is common cause that the termination of the pilots’ Regulating Agreement is necessary for the long-term sustainability of a restructured airline.”

Saapa was not immediately available for comment.

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has previously rejected the demands made by 600 pilots made as part of the VSPs of the proposed R2.27 billion rescue plan.

The DPE said the benefits sought by Saapa were far more costly, more lucrative and financially rewarding for the pilots than any other class of employees at SAA.

It said SAA’s 600 pilots made up 13 percent of the airline’s staff but consumed 45 percent of the wage bill.


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