Unions representing South African Airways (SAA) staff have urged the airline’s Business Rescue Practitioners to participate in efforts to save the struggling airline and not simply push for retrenchments.
Earlier on Friday, the Labour Court in Johannesburg ruled in favour of National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACCA) and ordered the practitioners to withdraw their retrenchment consultation notices.
The court found that proper procedure was not followed in the issuing of the notices and requested that the two practitioners provide a business plan before any possible retrenchment consultations take place.
” As Numsa and SACCA we have been vindicated, we have been consistently saying that the actions of the business rescue practitioners are unlawful because the company’s act stipulates that they have to deliver on a business rescue plan. As Numsa and SACCA we are doing the work that the BRP’s have failed to do. We have devised a turnaround strategy and and we are working with the department of public enterprises on this. We are calling on this pair of BRP’s at SAA to join us on this initiative. It is in the interests of SAA, it is in the interest of South Africans that we turn around this airline,” says Numsa Spokesperson, Phakamile Hlubi-Majola.
— NUMSA (@Numsa_Media) May 8, 2020
In the video below, Aviation analyst Guy Leitch speaks to SABC News about the latest developments at SAA:
No more funds to save SAA
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday that the government wanted to avoid SAA being liquidated and preferred to see it restructured into a new airline.
The administrators started consultations with unions in March about layoffs, but Numsa and SACCA said those consultations should wait until the administrators had presented a business rescue plan. The Labour Court sided with the unions, ruling that the layoff notices were “procedurally unfair” without the rescue plan having been published and ordering the administrators to withdraw the notices.
Administrators are still permitted to offer voluntary severance packages and employees can accept them, the court said.
The administrators, who had suspended a deadline for staff to agree to layoff terms while the court made its decision, said they were considering their next steps.
Gordhan said in a statement that his ministry’s lawyers would study the ruling to assess the implications for rescue efforts. SAA has not made a profit since 2011 and has received bailouts worth more than R20 billion over the past three years, a major drain on public resources alongside struggling state utility Eskom at a time of weak economic growth.
The airline said on Friday that it would continue repatriation flights “during the month of May and beyond” and that it was in talks with officials on places where South Africans might be stranded abroad. – Additional reporting by Reuters
Below is SAA fact sheet: