SAA BRPs welcome Labour Court’s dismissal of SAAPA application
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JOHANNESBURG - SAA’s business rescue practitioners (BRP) have welcomed the Labour Court’s dismissal of an application by the SAAPA (South African Airline Pilots Association) to have a lockout against its members declared unlawful, but the impasse between the airline company and its pilots remains.
BRP Siviwe Dongwana said Wednesday: “We welcome today’s judgment from the Labour Court dismissing the application by SAAPA to have the lock-out declared unlawful. The judgment confirms the BRP’s have complied with the Labour Relations Act in implementing the lock-out.”
SAAPA could not be reached for further comment Wednesday, but other reports said the association was reviewing the court’s decision. The BRP’s have prevented nearly 400 pilots from accessing the SAA’s premises until they agreed to new employment terms and conditions, including salary cuts. SAA entered business rescue in December 2019 after many years of financial losses and its operations were grounded earlier this year through the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Department of Public Enterprises, in expressing its support of the lockout earlier this month, said the International Air Transport Association had found that SAA pilots were the second most highly paid pilots in the world, and much of the global industry had experienced salary and benefit cuts through the pandemic, so that the overall airline industry could take off again.
A day before Christmas, four SAA-based trade unions and three non-unionized workers formations agreed on the payment of deferred salaries to employees. These were the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, National Transport Movement, Solidarity, Aviation Workers Union of South Africa, SAA non-unionised management, SAA non-unionised non-management, and SAA Wider Management (Union).
At that stage the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, the SA Cabin Crew Association and SAAPA still had not accepted the offer.
Dongwana said it was unfortunate that SAAPA “”hasn’t moved an inch”” from seeking to continue with its 1997 Regulating Agreement. This is in contrast to many other parties who have had to make concessioners so as to create a platform for a new sustainable airline,” he said.
Dongwana said many other SAA employees had demonstrated a real understanding of the extent of the financial distress that SAA was in, through accepting the voluntary severance packages and considering new terms and conditions,
He said the BRP’s would continue to seek a solution with SAAPA, which included the termination of the Regulating Agreement and agreement on new terms. He said the Regulating Agreement could not be sustained in the new SAA.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE