WATCH: Labour Court reserves judgment on urgent application to stop job cuts at SAA
JOHANNESBURG – The Labour Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday heard an urgent application by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) to interdict retrenchments at national carrier South African Airways (SAA).
The troubled airline went into business rescue in December and unions are under pressure to sign off on retrenchment agreements for its roughly 5 000 workers.
On Thursday NUMSA and SACCA said their application was based on the fact that the SAA business rescue practitioners (BRPs) had “failed to deliver on a business rescue plan, and therefore the section 189 retrenchment process which was started in March is unlawful”.
“As NUMSA and SACCA we have consistently opposed the knee-jerk and hopelessly inadequate response of the SAA management to the challenges faced by the airline, to secure savings by retrenching workers,” they said.
“Even after the BRPs took over, they have consistently refused to tackle the glaring issue of the bloated procurement spend, consisting of questionable, corrupt, evergreen contracts.”
The unions said they would continue engaging the department of public enterprises on a turnaround strategy for a restructured SAA.
The Labour Court reserved judgement on the matter.
On Wednesday Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told legislators that every effort was being made to resolve the desperate situation at SAA and suggested the business rescue practitioners had also fallen short of the government's expectations.
He said the rescue team's proposed wind down of SAA was not in line with the “original purpose” in their brief, and that they had not been sufficiently prudent with funding made available to them and had failed to consult enough with both trade unions and the government, as the shareholder.
Gordhan acknowledged objections from unions that they had been asked to agree to retrenchments without being adequately consulted or shown a proper business rescue plan.
African News Agency (ANA)