The SAA Business Rescue Practitioners have agreed that they will not consider applying for the national carrier’s liquidation following a meeting with Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and trade unions. The practitioners also agreed to suspend the retrenchment of workers.
This decision was based on a briefing to the Business Rescue Practitioners in the “Leadership Consultative Forum” chaired by Gordhan.
The high-level meeting, held on Saturday, comprised of senior government leadership and representatives of unions at SAA and non-unionised staff formation – SAA Labour Unions.
In the video below, Numsa talks about the then-planned meeting:
“The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the status of the Business Rescue Process, finalise a Leadership Compact, the process to give input to the Business Rescue Plan and how the impact of the Business Rescue Process on employees can be mitigated,” Gordhan said in a statement.
The parties in attendance agreed on a leadership compact that is subject to a “new shared vision, strategic objectives, structures and processes for meaningful engagement, strategic equity partners including employees and other elements aimed at building new, fundamentally different cooperative relationships based on a spirit of strategic partnerships.”
They also agreed to work towards a national asset that is internationally competitive, viable, sustainable and profitable.
Gordhan acknowledged the challenges faced by SAA, but committed to saving the national carrier and making it a key catalyst in investment and job creation.
The talks came after Business Practitioners said that they have no further funds for rescue efforts and that the airline cannot survive beyond the end of April. They said they had considered two options available to them. One option was to develop a business rescue plan, which secures a better return for SAA’s creditors than liquidation would. This entails a wind-down process, which would envisage the retrenchment of workers by agreement. Another option was for them to make an urgent application for an order to discontinue the business rescue process and apply for liquidation.
Numsa and SCCA threaten legal action
The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) had vowed to fight this. On Friday, they announced that they would be heading to court to block retrenchments at SAA. The unions accused the Business Rescue Practitioners of threatening workers with lay offs and forcing them to sign packages.
“We call on all political parties and progressive formations that care for the poor to do their duty and support this application. If we sit back and allow thieves and looters to destroy our airline for personal enrichment then it means none of our state owned entities are safe and will follow the same route as SAA,” said Numsa Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.
In the video below, Numsa says that it will be taking legal action to block retrenchments at SAA: