SAA Trade union members who opted not to accept a business rescue salary agreement had retained their claim as creditors of SAA to be settled at the conclusion of the business rescue process. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
SAA Trade union members who opted not to accept a business rescue salary agreement had retained their claim as creditors of SAA to be settled at the conclusion of the business rescue process. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Trade union members retain their claim as creditors of SAA

By Edward West Time of article published Feb 12, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - SAA TRADE union members who opted not to accept a business rescue salary agreement had retained their claim as creditors of SAA to be settled at the conclusion of the business rescue process, National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) spokesperson Phamile Hlubi-Majola said yesterday.

She was commenting following a Labour Court judgment this week that ruled against an application by Numsa and the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca) to have the non-payment of three months’ salary backpay, a 13th cheque and 5.9 percent salary increase backdated to April 2020 to employees who had not concluded the Outstanding Salary Settlement Agreement, declared unlawful and unfair.

Hlubi-Majola said their legal team was also still studying the judgment to assess a way forward.

Meanwhile, SAA and the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRP) said yesterday they believed the Labour Court judgment had vindicated their view that the use of the courts by labour unions was hampering the business rescue process of the airline.

In the court application, the union wanted the national carrier’s shareholder to pay their members a lump sum of a

5.9 percent increase, backdated to April 2020, as well as an equivalent pro-rata contribution towards a 13th cheque.

More than 81 percent of SAA’s 4579 employees, including some Numsa and Sacca members at SAA, have accepted the Department of Public Enterprise’s salary settlement offer. Last October, the government allocated R10 billion to the airline to fund the business rescue process.

The BRP’s said yesterday it had won three out of four court applications brought against them by the two unions and the SA Airline Pilot Association. Labour Court Judge Andre van Niekerk said in his judgment against Numsa and Sacca that their founding affidavit “did not articulate the basis of the unions’ claim in the clearest of terms”.

The judge also dismissed the unions’ application to disallow the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan to intervene in the proceedings. Van Niekerk also ordered costs against the unions for having opposed that application, noting: “I fail to appreciate why the taxpayer should ultimately be saddled with the costs of the application to intervene.”

SAA’s BRP’s said a reopening of the salary agreement to SAA staff had closed this week with a further 163 employees taking up the offer, increasing the take-up to 85 percent of SAA employees, including those who took voluntary severance.

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