The Labour Court in Johannesburg has reserved judgment in the case regarding the dispute between unions and South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SCCA) last week filed an urgent court application to declare unlawful the practitioners’ decision not to pay union members their salaries.
The unions want the practitioners to pay outstanding three months’ salaries to their members.
According to the unions, their members have not been paid for eight months and only requested a portion of their salaries to be paid.
SAA unions file urgent wage application at Labour Court: Phakamile Hlubi-Majola
The practitioners received R1.5-billion from the Public Enterprises Department to pay Voluntary Severance Packages owed to over 3 000 redundant SAA employees.
The packages were supposed to be paid out on Friday last week. Three-month salaries are owed to over 1 000 staff who will remain with the airline.
“This was an abuse of power by the Business Rescue Practitioners in conjunction with the minister. Contrary to the Business Rescue Plan that employees must waive their rights to the balance of their remuneration of not been paid is clearly an abuse of power, this blatant demand that employees must now waive their rights to the balance of the remuneration, never formed part of the Business Rescue Plan and now neither can the minister nor the business rescue practitioner’s can now attempt to amend the business rescue plan without taking it back to the creditors meeting,” says Minnaar Niehaus, unions’ legal representative.
‘No agreement signed’
Meanwhile, the legal representatives for SAA Business Rescue Practitioners have argued that union members at the airline have an alternative to accept what has been offered as three months salary. Its legal representative Andrew Redding has told the labour court that no agreement was signed by employees in their employment contracts regarding payments when a business goes into a rescue plan.
“The money was made available in November last year and negotiations commenced in December with agreements with those parties who accepted were reached prior to Christmas and this application was brought 23 days later, the applicants have alternative remedies available. The undeniable fact in this application is that the applicants have a claim in respect of all of their wages. You have a claim in fact for seven months.”
Unions NUMSA and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) last week filed an urgent court application to declare unlawful the practitioners’ decision not to pay union members their salaries.
NUMSA spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola on SAA funding
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