SAAPA members started the strike to prevent the airline from lifting the lockout for certain pilots, especially training pilots who are needed to get the airline running again. File photo.
SAAPA members started the strike to prevent the airline from lifting the lockout for certain pilots, especially training pilots who are needed to get the airline running again. File photo.

SAA pilots to go to court to prevent airline using replacement labour

By BR Reporter Time of article published Apr 15, 2021

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THE battle between the SAA Pilots’ Association (SAAPA) and the government continues, as the pilots will on Thursday apply for an urgent interdict to have the airline’s use of “scab” labour during their dispute with the carrier declared illegal.

SAAPA members started the strike to prevent the airline from lifting the lockout for certain pilots, especially training pilots who are needed to get the airline running again.

SAAPA said in a statement on Wednesday said that it would further argue that the current lockout should be declared unlawful.

SAAPA chairperson Captain Grant Back said if the lockout was declared unlawful, the union would immediately stop the strike.

Back said members of the association were on strike having initially been locked out by SAA.

“SAAPA has agreed to cancel their existing regulating agreement the day after their members are retrenched, but it will also argue that SAA cannot, while the current strike/lockout dispute continues, demand it be cancelled and also endeavour to do so through further pending court action, which SAA is attempting to do,” he said.

SAAPA said they will further argue that salaries owed to striking pilots from before the start of the lockout be paid, just as they were to non-cockpit employees.

“To reiterate, our members are all just seeking what is lawfully owed to them. We are also dismayed that what is essentially a legitimate labour dispute between employer and employees has now become in part an ugly and hurtful race-driven debate,” Back said.

He said reports that the pilots have rejected a collective settlement offer of close to R1 billion are misleading.

“While the amount looks substantial, it includes a year of unpaid salaries for more than 350 pilots, as well as retrenchment pay for our pilots, some with 30 to 40 years of service, and would be subject to taxation. The business rescue practitioners are also insisting that, highly irregularly, some of it be paid over three years,” he said.

Last month, SAAPA went to court and applied for leave to appeal the Labour Court’s December 2020 judgment that the lockout of the pilots was lawful and protected in terms of the Labour Relations Act. The union’s application was dismissed, with Judge Andre van Niekerk commenting that the application from SAAPA “adds nothing to the debate”.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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