Thu, 09 Apr 2020

Court dismisses Numsa bid to prevent SAA job cuts

News24
21 Feb 2020, 04:13 GMT+10

The Labour Court has dismissed an urgent application for leave to appeal by The National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the SA Cabin Crew Association, as the unions seek to obtain an order blocking South African Airways and its business rescue practitioners from retrenching workers.

The court rejected their first application and reserved judgment when they appealed earlier in February.

In a ruling handed down on Thursday, the court said the matter had no "reasonable prospect of success".

The union's legal action followed an announcement by the carrier's business rescue practitioners earlier in the month to cancel all of the airline's domestic routes apart from the popular Johannesburg-Cape Town flight early in February. A number of international and regional routes were also cut.

The judgment took issue with the fact that no formal notice of cuts had been formal issued in terms of labour law, but that the parties had relied on information relayed by managers.

"No court would grant this type of application," read the judgment.

In their urgent application, the two unions wanted the court to interdict and restrain SAA and its business rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, from taking any steps towards the termination of the services of its members.

READ| Numsa pulling 'publicity stunt' with accelerated retrenchment claims - SAA lawyer

Numsa has indicated that it plans to directly petition the Labour Appeals Court to hear the matter and believes that the ruling sets a wrong precedence.

"We will be making an urgent application to petition the Labour Appeals Court.... to hear this application," it said adding that the application will be filed on Friday.

The union also stated that the Labour Court's approach "created fertile grounds for business rescue practitioners to abuse their powers and act with impunity towards employees, as long as all of this is done prior to issuing a business rescue plan."

The state-owned carrier said in November it may cut over 900 jobs as part of its turnaround strategy. The announcement prompted a devastating week-long strike, which grounded the airlines and led to massive financial losses. The state-owned airline went into business rescue in December 2019, just weeks after the strike.

In January, the Development Bank of Southern Africa extended R3.5 billion to the airline in emergency funding.

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