SAA judgment by labour court a 'travesty of justice' — Numsa

Numsa has described a court judgment which refused to compel SAA to consult employees before pending retrenchments as a travesty of justice. File photo.
Numsa has described a court judgment which refused to compel SAA to consult employees before pending retrenchments as a travesty of justice. File photo.
Image: The Times/Moeletsi Mabe

A labour court judgment which on Friday dismissed an application to compel SA Airways (SAA) to consult employees pending retrenchments was a “travesty of justice”.

That was the response to the ruling by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) which, together with the SA Cabin Crew Association (Sacca), failed in a court bid to force the employer to begin consultations as required by the Labour Relations Act.

Judge Graham Moshoana held on Friday that SAA had not contemplated dismissals and therefore the duty to consult as set out in section 189 of the Labour Relations Act did not arise.

“The procedure in section 189A (13) is available to consulting parties and since the duty to consult has not arisen, the powers of this court to compel a fair procedure and or interdiction and restraining SAA are severely circumscribed,” Moshoana said.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the labour union viewed the judgment as a travesty of justice.

“What the labour court has done today is to take away workers’ rights to have meaningful engagement when retrenchments are taking place,” said Hlubi-Majola.

“The business rescue practitioners are retrenching workers at SAA. There is a plan that is being implemented, we are simply being told about it, we are not being meaningfully engaged.”

In their arguments when the matter was heard on Thursday, the business rescue practitioners said the application, by the unions to compel the employer to consult, was premature because the practitioners were not contemplating retrenchments.

Sacca president Zazi Nsibanyoni-Mugambi said the court had taken away the right to be meaningfully engaged and consulted prior to a restructuring taking place.

“We have proven yesterday [Thursday] that they have told us that there will be an accelerated headcount reduction.

“We have proven that members in Durban, Port Elizabeth were told that by the first of March, they will  have no more employment,” said Nsibanyoni-Mugambi.

The unions applied for leave to appeal against Moshoana's judgment on Friday afternoon.

Moshoana reserved judgment.


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