British Airways/Comair aircraft at the Cape Town International Airport. Picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA)
British Airways/Comair aircraft at the Cape Town International Airport. Picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA)

Numsa warns Comair against changing workers' conditions of service

By Loyiso Sidimba Time of article published Sep 17, 2020

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Johannesburg – The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has warned business rescue practitioners (BRPs) of troubled airline operator Comair against bullying its employees into agreeing to the unilateral change to their employment conditions.

Numsa, which is the country’s biggest trade union, issued the stern warning ahead of Friday’s meeting of the creditors of the company, which operates Kulula and local British Airways flights.

According to Numsa, there is a meeting on Thursday with all stakeholders where unions and other non-unionised employees are expected to sign the proposed collective agreement.

BRPs Shaun Collyer and Richard Ferguson, who were appointed in May, want the agreement signed before close of business today.

But Numsa is unhappy with Collyer and Ferguson threatening that if workers do not sign, one of the conditions precedent to the acceptance of the business rescue plan will not be met.

Among the union’s complaints is that employees will have to waive their rights to any income between April 2020 and December or until the day the company resumes operations and that should it be operational the terms and conditions of employment will be drastically reduced.

The BRPs have also warned their plan to save the company will not be approved on Friday and its winding down will follow with resultant job losses.

Numsa said as the majority union at the company it was not consulted and will neither be signing the collective agreement nor attending today’s meeting.

”The BRPs at Comair have not engaged in an honest and constructive manner, and despite our positive commitment to engage in a solution-driven manner, the approach of the BRPs has been one of intimidation and threats,” Numsa said in a statement on Thursday.

The union said workers were being given the choice of either accepting an outrageously unfair and unlawful collective agreement, the terms of which they have to waive their contractual, statutory and constitutional rights, or risk the company being wound down and losing their jobs.

”We reject any attempts to bully employees into signing,” Numsa said.

Political Bureau

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