NEWS & ANALYSIS

Further legal action in pipeline against BRPS at SAA – NUMSA & SACCA

Organisations say members’ rights have been violated in terms of this business rescue process

NUMSA and SACCA prepare to take further legal action against BRPS at SAA

25 February 2020

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA) have written a letter to the Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) at South African Airways (SAA) to enforce our members’ right to meaningful engagement during the Business Rescue Process in terms of the Companies Act. We believe that there are various aspects of the Companies Act which have been flouted by the BRPs in relation to the rights of workers during this process. In terms of section 144 (2) of the Act, employees at SAA are preferred unsecured creditors of SAA. That means they are affected persons and therefore they have certain rights. It is clear that our members’ rights have been violated in terms of this BRP process, and the purpose of the letter we sent them is to enforce workers’ rights.

The BRPs intend to publish a Business Rescue Plan by the 6th of March 2020. It is our view that the BRPs have no right to publish any Business Rescue plan until they have first:

A)    disclosed all relevant documentation to allow workers to engage in meaningful consultation, pertaining to the business and affairs of SAA.

B)    consulted with workers

C)   disclosed the draft BR plan so that we may make submissions and propose possible alternatives.

D)   allowed workers sufficient opportunity to review the plan in order that they may make submissions or propose alternatives

So far the BRPs have acted unilaterally to restructure SAA and they are doing so without consulting workers in a genuine way and infringing workers’ rights under the Companies Act. As we speak an attempt is being made to railroad our members into accepting changes to their terms and conditions of employment. The BRPs have sent letters to employees who will be affected by the closure of the eleven routes, compelling them to agree to drastically reduced hours. They will be working 3 or 4 days in a week. We have advised our members not to sign these agreements as these are a direct violation of their rights in terms of the Labour Law.

This is the second time that we are preparing to approach the courts in order to enforce the rights of all workers at SAA, after the Labour Court handed down an adverse finding against us. (This is a matter we hope to appeal at the Labour Appeals Court and we have petitioned it for direct access). Meanwhile, we believe that our members’ rights are protected in terms of the Companies Act and it is this legislation which we will be using in order to demand that the BRPs act in good faith during this restructuring process.

In our letter we have said that if the BRPs fail to respond to our demands by today, Tuesday 25th February 2020, then we will have no choice but to approach the High Court to interdict them from publishing the final Business Rescue Plan.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi, SACCA President, and Irvin Jim NUMSA General Secretary, 24 February 2020