The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA) and SA Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) have lost their court bid to stop what they called retrenchments at the South African Airways (SAA).
The Labour Court in Johannesburg ruled on Friday that SAA had not yet contemplated the retrenchments.
Judge Graham Moshoana said, “[As such] the duty to consult in the contemplation of section 189.1 of the LRA [Labour Relations Act] did not arise.”
Reduction of employees ‘necessary’
NUMSA and SACCA approached the court on an urgent basis after SAA’s business rescue practitioners announced plans to stop flying all domestic routes except Johannesburg-Cape Town.
The practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, said the route cancellations are part of key measures taken to “create a viable platform for a successful future” for SAA.
In their statement earlier this month, they explained, “It is our intention to restructure the business in a manner that we can retain as many jobs as possible.
“This will help provide a platform to a viable and sustainable future. However, a reduction in the number of employees will unfortunately be necessary.”
Unions considering an appeal
However, the unions said they had not been consulted prior to the route cancellations, which they said would result in at least 1,000 job losses.
NUMSA’s Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said last week, “No consultation, whatsoever, has taken place with labour as required by the law and the BRP has acted in total disregard in relation to the Labour Relations Act instead of consultation.”
In their court application, the unions argued that the practitioners must follow proper processes and provide affected employees with alternatives and training opportunities.
In turn, the practitioners argued that the unions’ application was premature because SAA had not yet contemplated retrenchments.
NUMSA and SACCA have indicated that they are considering whether to appeal the ruling or not.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, along with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and labour federation COSATU, have also expressed unhappiness with the route cancellations.